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change? what change? Senate votes to extend Patriot Act
02-25-2010, 08:57 PM,
#1
change? what change? Senate votes to extend Patriot Act
Senate votes to extend Patriot Act
Democrats retreat from adding new privacy protections to the law
The Associated Press
updated 4:32 p.m. PT, Wed., Feb. 24, 2010

WASHINGTON - Democrats have retreated from adding new privacy protections to the primary U.S counterterrorism law, stymied by Senate Republicans who argued the changes would weaken terror investigations.

The proposed protections were cast aside when Senate Democrats lacked the necessary 60-vote supermajority to pass them. Dashing the hopes of liberals, the Senate Wednesday night instead passed — by voice vote without debate — a one-year extension of key parts of the USA Patriot Act that would have expired on Sunday.

Thrown away were restrictions and greater scrutiny on the government's authority to spy on Americans and seize their records.

The House was prepared to approve the extension Thursday, dropping even more extensive privacy protections approved by the House Judiciary Committee.

The Democratic retreat is a political victory for Republicans, who gained new ammunition for their election theme that they can better protect America. The outcome is a major disappointment for Democrats and their liberal allies, including the American Civil Liberties Union, who believe the Patriot Act fails to protect Americans' privacy and gives the government too much authority to spy on Americans and seize their property.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, noted that the bill with privacy protections had been approved in committee by a bipartisan majority. He said the measure "should be an example of what Democrats and Republicans can accomplish when we work together, but I understand some Republican senators objected to passing the carefully crafted national security, oversight and judicial review provisions in this legislation."

But Sen. Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on Leahy's committee, said Thursday that any changes to the Patriot Act would weaken it.

"Recent terror attacks, such as those at Fort Hood and on Christmas Day, demonstrate just how severe of a threat we are facing," Sessions said. "This extension keeps Patriot's security measures in place and demonstrates that there is a growing recognition that these crucial provisions must be preserved."

The Obama administration supported the revisions to the law as approved by the committee.

The three sections of the Patriot Act that would stay in force:
# Authorize court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones.
# Allow court-approved seizure of records and property in anti-terrorism operations.
# Permit surveillance against a so-called "lone wolf," a non-U.S. citizen engaged in terrorism who may not be part of a recognized terrorist group.

The Judiciary Committee bill would have restricted FBI information demands known as national security letters, and made it easier to challenge gag orders imposed on Americans whose records are seized with these letters.

Library records would have received extra protections. Congress would have closely scrutinized FBI use of the Patriot Act to prevent abuses. Dissemination of surveillance results would have been restricted, and after a time, unneeded records would have been destroyed.

The House Judiciary Committee's bill would have restricted use of National Security letters even further, and eliminated the authority to spy on a "lone wolf" suspect. The Justice Department has said the "lone wolf" authority has never been used, but sought to retain it.

Republicans have been steadily pounding the Obama administration over the closing of the detainee prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as the possibility of holding civilian trials for detainees in the United States. They have also criticized federal agents for informing a Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, of his right to remain silent after 50 minutes of questioning for allegedly trying to ignite explosives on a Detroit-bound airliner Dec. 25.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35571223/ns/politics-capitol_hill/
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02-26-2010, 07:55 AM,
#2
RE: change? what change? Senate votes to extend Patriot Act
The two "Terrorist Attacks" mentioned by sessions weren't stopped by the patriot act, so why bother having this bill? It seems plausible that the bill will be used against Americans that are in the government eyes pro-freedom.

P.S I wouldn't call the attack on fort hood TERRORISM. Soon someone stealing a candy bar will be considered a terrorist.
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02-27-2010, 01:01 AM,
#3
RE: change? what change? Senate votes to extend Patriot Act
Lawmakers Punt Patriot Act to Obama

* By David Kravets Email Author
* February 26, 2010 |
* 3:52 pm |
* Categories: privacy
*

screen-shot-2010-02-26-at-123631-pmCongress is sending President Barack Obama legislation that extends three provisions of the Patriot Act — despite heated debate among lawmakers that the surveillance measure goes too far.

The act, hastily adopted six weeks after the 2001 terror attacks, greatly expands the government’s ability to spy on Americans in the name of national security. Three measures of the act were set to expire at the end of 2009, but in December lawmakers extended the deadline to the end of February in hopes of reaching a compromise.

But no deal was reached by the end of the new Feb. 28 deadline. Instead, the Senate and House of Representatives ditched their two conflicting measures and extended the Patriot Act for another year without any changes. The final package was sent to the president Thursday for his expected signature.

Lawmakers had taken the expiration as an opportunity to revisit a number of the act’s surveillance provisions, including elements of the Patriot Act that were not expiring. This included proposals to alter the standard by which so-called National Security Letters are issued.

The letters allow the FBI, without a court order, to obtain telecommunication, financial and credit records relevant to a government investigation. The FBI issues about 50,000 NSLs annually, and an internal watchdog has found repeated abuses of the NSL powers.

At one point last year, reforming the NSL took center stage during vigorous debate in committee hearings. The Senate had moved to make it more difficult for the FBI to issue NSLs, but caved after the administration argued NSLs were assisting the fight against terrorism. A House version granted the public greater protections.

The status quo, however, prevailed this week and the NSL structure was left intact, as were the three expiring provisions. They were extended on a 315-97 House vote Thursday and by a Senate voice vote the day before.

The three extended Patriot Act provisions are:

* The “roving wiretap” provision allows the FBI to obtain wiretaps from a secret intelligence court, known as the FISA court, without identifying the target or what method of communication is to be tapped.
* The “lone wolf” measure allows FISA court warrants for the electronic monitoring of a person for whatever reason — even without showing that the suspect is an agent of a foreign power or a terrorist. The government has said it has never invoked that provision, but the Obama administration said it wanted to retain the authority to do so.
* The “business records” provision allows FISA court warrants for any type of record, from banking to library to medical, without the government having to declare that the information sought is connected to a terrorism or espionage investigation.
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