The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Sen. Arlen Specter has introduced a bill to prevent witness intimidation in local cases. "Specter said he was reacting to an Inquirer series that found witness fear to be a factor in virtually every violent-crime prosecution in Philadelphia. "Unless witnesses can be assured they will be protected, the problem of witness intimidation cannot be expected to go away," Specter, a former Philadelphia district attorney, said yesterday on the Senate floor. Specter's bill would allow federal prosecutors and the FBI to investigate and bring charges against people who intimidate witnesses in local court cases and would set tough new penalties for those crimes. It would impose maximum penalties of up to 20 years for intimidating or harming a witness, up to 30 years for the attempted murder of a witness, and the possibility of the death penalty for the murder of a witness. Specter called the situation in Philadelphia "disastrous" but said the problem was pervasive nationwide. Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams lauded Specter's efforts. "As a former Philadelphia D.A., I think he, more than most, understands what we are dealing with on a daily basis," Williams said. "So I appreciate his effort.""