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Obama Still Supports the Patriot Act

John on September 16, 2009 at 9:57 am

The Obama DOJ is asking for an extension of the Patriot Act:

The Obama administration supports extending three key provisions of the Patriot Act that are due to expire at the end of the year, the Justice Department told Congress in a letter made public Tuesday.

Lawmakers and civil rights groups had been pressing the Democratic administration to say whether it wants to preserve the post-Sept. 11 law’s authority to access business records, as well as monitor so-called “lone wolf” terrorists and conduct roving wiretaps.

The provision on business records was long criticized by rights groups as giving the government access to citizens’ library records, and a coalition of liberal and conservative groups complained that the Patriot Act gives the government too much authority to snoop into Americans’ private lives.

When the law was extended in 2006, it included some modifications, including an exclusion of library records. Of course that was all just public spin anyway. The provision was never used for that purpose:

From 2004 to 2007, the business records provision was used 220 times, officials said. Most often, the business records were requested in combination with requests for phone records.

Moving right along:

The lone wolf provision was created to conduct surveillance on suspects with no known link to foreign governments or terrorist groups. It has never been used, but the administration says it should still be available for future investigations.

The roving wiretaps provision was designed to allow investigators to quickly monitor the communications of a suspects who change their cell phone or communication device, without investigators having to go back to court for a new court authorization. That provision has been used an average of 22 times a year, officials said.

The AP story ends with a quote from the ACLU calling the extentions “a mixed bag.” But according to this Wired story on the same issue:

The American Civil Liberties opposes renewing all three provisions, especially the lone wolf measure.

It’s more than a bit odd that this outright opposition didn’t make it into the AP coverage.

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Category: Crime & the Law |

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