Sunday, December 20, 2009

Short Patriot Act extensions may open door to tinkers

Opponents of the USA Patriot Act say that a congressional move to consider temporarily extending three key provisions that are due to expire at year's end opens the door to try to alter or eliminate some of the national security strategies implemented by former President George W. Bush and embraced by President Barack Obama. Extending the provisions — elements that Patriot Act opponents don't like — was part of Congress' to-do list before it adjourns for the holidays. However, Congress may turn to temporary extensions because of the pressure to pass health care legislation and complete other legislative business before going home. The three Patriot Act provisions that would expire allow the federal government to collect business, credit card and even library records of national security targets, use roving wiretaps to keep tabs on suspects who try to avoid detection by repeatedly changing cell phone numbers and track so-called "lone wolves," individuals who may be working on behalf of foreign governments or terrorist groups. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., a House Judiciary Committee member, said that extending the Patriot Act provisions temporarily would buy opponents time to press the White House to back House of Representatives and Senate proposals that would establish uniform procedures for courts and judges to deal with government state-secrets more

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