Almost a year after the Oklahoma City bombing, Congress is finally taking up a watered-down version of President Clinton's anti-terrorist bill that is bitterly opposed by an unusual alliance - civil libertarians and gun groups.

Robert Bryant, assistant director for national security at the FBI, says the legislation is vital for law enforcement crackdowns on terrorist organizations operating in the United States. Clinton says he wants the bill on his desk by the April 20 anniversary of the Oklahoma City tragedy.But the American Civil Liberties Union and organizations like the Gun Owners of America have joined forces to try to block passage, protesting the sweeping new powers given police to monitor the legal activities of Americans.

"This is a knee jerk reaction to Oklahoma City," said ACLU attorney Gregory Nojeim, who called the legislation's effect on civil rights "draconian."

"Nothing in this bill would prevent another Oklahoma City bombing, because if a person is bent on bombing a building, they are just going to do it anyway," said John Velleco, a spokesman for the Gun Owners of America.

Hoping to blunt the opposition, the House leadership this week floated a revamped bill sponsored by Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., that strips the legislation of most of its controversial provisions and transforms it into a new anti-crime bill.

Barr's watered-down bill is aimed at winning support from 40 conservative Republicans who oppose expanding the powers of federal law enforcement agencies.

The revisions, supported by the House Republican leadership, would drop most provisions Clinton wanted that would permit the White House to blacklist organizations the FBI says are terrorists based on secret evidence, and permit wider use of wiretaps.

But Barr's legislation would still set new limits on appeals from state courts, expedite deportation of criminal aliens, and speed the execution of condemned criminals.

"We would rather see the whole bill go down to defeat," said Vellaco, contending Barr's changes leave a provision he considers especially offensive - limiting the rights of citizens to appeal state court rulings to the federal courts.

Vellaco said this would wipe out protections gun owners need from unwarranted prosecution by politically motivated local prosecutors.

Nojeim said the restrictions on appeals from state courts are among the most objectionable portions of the legislation because they interfere with the rights of people wrongfully convicted to get justice.

"This legislation is a watershed issue for civil liberties," he said.