WASHINGTON -- Governor Mitt Romney raised the prospect of wiretapping mosques
and conducting surveillance of foreign students in Massachusetts, as he issued
a broad call yesterday for the federal government to devote far more money and
attention to domestic intelligence gathering.
In remarks that caused alarm among civil libertarians and advocates for immigrants
rights, Romney said in a speech to the Heritage Foundation that the United States
needs to radically rethink how it guards itself against terrorism.
''How many individuals are coming to our state and going to those institutions
who have come from terrorist-sponsored states?" he said, referring to foreign
students who attend universities in Massachusetts. ''Do we know where they are?
Are we tracking them?"
''How about people who are in settings -- mosques, for instance -- that may
be teaching doctrines of hate and terror," Romney continued. ''Are we monitoring
that? Are we wiretapping? Are we following what's going on?"
As he ponders a potential run for president in 2008, Romney has positioned
himself as a homeland security expert: He sits on a federal homeland security
advisory council, is active on the issue with the National Governors Association,
and repeatedly speaks about the lessons the country has learned from the terrorist
attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and, more recently, from Hurricane Katrina.
Romney, who referred to himself yesterday as ''red-state folk," has also
struck more conservative postures on social issues that may alienate voters
in Massachusetts but endear him to the Republican electorate nationwide; his
tough talk on antiterrorism measures could also earn him support among conservatives.