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Bush makes formal troop notification

Northern Alliance fighters observe Taliban troops' positions just north of Kabul, Afghanistan, where artillery and rocket fire thundered Monday.  

(CNN) -- President Bush has formally notified Congress of his decision to deploy U.S. combat forces "to a number of foreign nations" and said additional deployments are under consideration.

"It is not now possible to predict the scope and duration of these deployments, and the actions necessary to counter the terrorist threat to the United States," Bush said in a letter sent Monday night to House and Senate leaders.

"It is likely that the American campaign against terrorism will be a lengthy one," Bush wrote.

Hours after the president's letter, Saudi Arabia announced that it was cutting all ties with Afghanistan's Taliban government. The official Saudi Arabian news agency reported the move, saying the Taliban was defaming Islam by harboring and supporting terrorists. (Full story)

The moves are the latest in a steady drumbeat of action that has built since the September 11 terrorist attacks against the United States. On Monday, saying "the American people do not have the luxury of time," Attorney General John Ashcroft called on Congress to approve a legislative package quickly that he said would help authorities combat terrorism.

During his appearance before a congressional committee, Ashcroft disclosed that 352 individuals have been taken into custody nationwide, and another 392 are still being sought for questioning about the terrorist attacks. That's more than double the previous count made public, and does not count those arrested overseas, officials said.

The legislation would broaden law enforcement surveillance powers and ease restrictions on the ability of U.S. authorities to detain or deport suspected alien terrorists.

The package was lauded as just and necessary by House Republicans. Some Democrats said they fear some provisions would not pass constitutional muster, a concern also raised by civil liberties and conservative groups.

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Ashcroft, however, stuck to his view that time is of the essence and argued that law enforcement officers are armed with "antique weapons" in the battle against terrorism. He said laws have not kept up with advances in technology and investigators are hindered as a result.

The package outlined by Ashcroft would ease restrictions on wiretaps and search warrant requests.

For example, the legislation would allow one court to authorize wiretaps for a number of different jurisdictions. The measure would also allow federal investigators to seize suspected terrorists' voice mail messages with a search warrant. (Full story)

U.S. pilots are also seeking authority from Congress to fight off terrorists during flights. The Air Line Pilots Association announced Monday it wants Congress to change the law to allow pilots to carry firearms in airplane cockpits. (Full story)

Two men in Virginia are in custody, accused of aiding and abetting two of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks by helping them obtain fraudulent Virginia driver's licenses, according to affidavits filed Monday with the U.S. District Court in northern Virginia.

One of the men, named Herbert Villalobos, was charged with helping one of the hijackers obtain a fake driver's license. Both men are believed to have helped two men identified as hijackers, Abdul Aziz al Omari and Ahmed Saleh al Ghamdi, obtain Virginia licenses and residency cards, according to the criminal complaint.

Bush wants to starve terrorist groups of all money supplies. He announced Monday he signed an order freezing U.S. assets of suspected terrorists and demanded financial institutions in other nations do the same. The order names suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden and mentions his al Qaeda network. (Full story)

Pentagon planners are drawing up target lists that include illicit-drug production facilities in Afghanistan in order to cut off one of the main pipelines of money for the ruling Taliban militia, sources told CNN Monday. U.S. officials said illicit drug trade brings the Taliban an estimated $50 million a year. (Full story)

Meanwhile, markets on Wall Street rebounded on Monday after suffering one of their worst weeks ever. The Dow closed up more than 367 points and the Nasdaq gained more than 75 points. (Full story)

Latest developments

• Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Bush will meet Tuesday on how to cooperate against terrorism. Koizumi, in New York Monday, told reporters there that his country is prepared to lend logistical support and medical assistance to U.S. anti-terrorist measures. Tokyo's defense agency plans to dispatch four or five vessels, including an Aegis-class destroyer, to carry out intelligence and surveillance missions, the mass-circulation Asahi and Mainichi newspapers said.

New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani updated the number of presumed dead in the September 11 attacks to 6,453.  

• Deputy U.S. Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz will travel to Brussels, Belgium, for a meeting Thursday of NATO defense ministers where he will lay out to NATO allies evidence the United States has accumulated on bin Laden and al Qaeda's links to the attacks, State Department officials and diplomatic sources told CNN Monday.

• A letter bearing bin Laden's purported signature was hand delivered Monday to the Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera. The missive expressed sorrow over the deaths of three people killed last week in anti-U.S. demonstrations in Pakistan. (Full story)

• A U.S. military delegation, diplomatic sources told CNN, is believed to be in Pakistan inspecting military facilities to evaluate whether they can be used for any potential U.S. retaliation for the September 11 terrorist attacks. (Full story)

• Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar said in a statement the crisis will continue until the United States pulls its troops from the Persian Gulf area, stops its involvement in the "Palestinian crisis" and "leaves Islam alone." (Full story)

• Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday said Russia has worked out how it will aid the U.S. campaign on terrorism -- going so far as to exchange intelligence but stopping short of allowing U.S. warplanes to use Russian airspace or air bases. Putin said Russia would expand its cooperation with the Afghan opposition, including providing military aid. (Full story)

• Mayor Rudy Giuliani announced updated casualty figures from the New York attacks: 276 confirmed dead, of which 206 have been identified. The mayor said 6,453 people are missing and presumed dead.

• Police in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta said they will crack down on attempts by radical Islamic groups planning to "sweep" the city of American citizens pending an attack on Afghanistan. (Full story)

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