The Bush administration is expected to use the terrorist threat to regain the upper hand in congressional debates and push for government action before the November elections, reports The Wall Street Journal. 2

The Bush administration is expected to use the terrorist threat to regain the upper hand in congressional debates and push for government action before the November elections, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Republicans appear to be circling around a new strategy to advocate stronger counterterrorism laws and expand domestic surveillance, while pushing back against civil libertarians.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is emerging as a point man in the drive for tougher laws, yesterday noting Britain’s ability to hold suspects without publicizing the charges. Appearing on ABC News’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Mr. Chertoff said he would like to see a renewed look at U.S. laws that could give authorities here the flexibility to detain suspects for longer periods of time, noting that the British have such latitude.

“I think we should always review the law,” Mr. Chertoff told “Fox News Sunday.” “Certainly the ability to be as nimble as possible with surveillance, and their ability to hold people for a period of time gives them a legal advantage. We have to have a legal system to allow us to do that rather than punishing people after the fact.”

Mr. Chertoff, who weeks ago was widely viewed in Congress as the beleaguered head of a troubled department, has emerged as the public face and voice of the U.S. government’s response to the alleged London plot. Now the Department of Homeland Security has won praise for calibrated advisories and quick action that stopped passengers from potentially smuggling liquid explosives on airliners, but didn’t unduly disrupt air travel. Although some critics considered the department late in responding to a well-known threat — liquid bombs — Mr. Chertoff’s enhanced standing allows him to spearhead the call to re-examine America’s counterterrorism laws by looking at how Britain fights terrorism.

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