9
Dez
2005

Deal on Patriot Act stirs opposition

A tentative "deal" (see below) has been reached on the Patriot Act reauthorization. The compromise (Conference Report on H.R. 3199, the "USA PATRIOT and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2005") does not contain even the modest reforms in Senate bill S. 1389. It differs from the pre-Thanksgiving version only in that its sunsets on sections 206, 215, and "lone wolf" have been reduced from 7 years to 4 years. The compromise is unacceptable.

Votes next week in the House and Senate are likely, assuming a majority of House and Senate negotiators sign the conference report. We will send updates when we receive them, and we will update our main web page ( //www.bordc.org ) regularly.

Our best chance to defeat the conference report is in the Senate, where Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Sens. Larry Craig (R-ID), Russell Feingold (D-WI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ken Salazar (D-CO), and John Sununu (R-NH) have threatened a filibuster. In addition, Democratic Conferees may introduce continuing resolution (s), which would extend by three months the expiring PATRIOT Act provisions AND the debate on reforms.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Please call or fax your Senators
//www.visi.com/juan/congress/ today and urge them to vote as follows, depending on motions introduced:

(1) NO on a motion for cloture (ending debate for an immediate vote);

(2) NO on the conference report; and

(3) YES on a motion for a continuing resolution.

Please contact your Representative with the same requests.

You may also send your message via email by clicking here, but calls and faxes are preferred.

TALKING POINTS:

Remind them of the resolutions passed in their state or district.
(See list at: //www.bordc.org/list.php?sortAlpha=1 .) State your requests (See "What You Can Do" above.) Feel free to expand with one or more reasons for your opposition to the conference report, such as:

It fails to ensure a connection between records sought and a suspected terrorist. The bill maintains the current, inadequate "relevancy standard" for records sought under section 215, which requires only that the government claim that the information it seeks is relevant to an investigation, without having to connect the target of the investigation to terrorism. It expands National Security Letter (NSL) powers. Any business that does not comply with an NSL could face criminal penalties. Furthermore, the report does not provide a meaningful mechanism for challenging NSLs in court, and does not ensure that the information gathered by these letters is destroyed if it is unrelated to the investigation for which it was sought. It creates only illusory rights to challenge orders for records and gag orders. Businesses receiving requests for records would be allowed to contact an attorney, but would have only limited rights to challenge orders for records in court. Likewise, a recipient would technically have the right to challenge a gag order, but the court would treat the government's assertion of national security, diplomatic relations, or an ongoing criminal investigation, as conclusive.

For expanded talking points, go to
//www.bordc.org/newsletter/expandedpoints2.php.

Thanks for all you do.

Bill of Rights Defense Committee Web: //www.bordc.org
Email: info@bordc.org Phone: 413-582-0110 Fax: 413-582-0116


Deal on Patriot Act stirs opposition

Thu Dec 8, 2005 5:25 PM ET

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican congressional negotiators announced a White House-backed deal on Thursday to extend the USA Patriot Act, a centerpiece of President George W. Bush's war on terrorism, but opponents said it did not satisfy their civil liberties concerns.

"We have cut through the knotty problems to produce what I think is a balanced bill," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, told reporters.

Specter acknowledged the compromise was not "perfect." Some Senate Republicans and Democrats were quick to say the compromise did not go far enough in improving the Patriot Act, which expanded the government's powers to track suspected terrorists after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Specter said the Senate and House of Representatives would vote next week on extending the law, which otherwise would expire on December 31.

Four senior liberal Democrats said if the latest compromise could not be changed more to their liking by the deadline, Congress should pass a 90-day extension of the current law to give lawmakers more time. They were Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, John Rockefeller of West Virginia and Carl Levin of Michigan.

The deal was also harshly criticized by at least three conservative Senate Republicans, Larry Craig of Idaho, John Sununu of New Hampshire and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, who said they were "gravely disappointed."

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales called the compromise bill a "win for the American people in that it will result in continued security for the United States and also continued protection of civil liberties for all Americans."

Specter said a key compromise worked out by House and Senate negotiators was a four-year extension of some of the most controversial provisions that raised civil liberties concerns. The House had been seeking a 10-year extension.

The four-year limit would be on rules for "roving" wiretaps of suspects and court orders for records from businesses, libraries, bookstores and others in intelligence cases.

Specter told reporters the deal to give Congress a chance to review the impact of the law after four years was important to winning bipartisan support for renewing the Patriot Act.

"I know that there are a number of people, Democrats in the House, who told me they would vote for it if they had a four-year sunset. And I believe before we're finished in the Senate we'll have significant bipartisan support," Specter said.

'SHAM COMPROMISE'

New controls also would be placed on "sneak-and-peek" search warrants, which allow law enforcement officials to enter someone's house without the person's knowledge. Under the compromise bill, notice of the search would have to be given within 30 days of its execution.

The Senate originally sought a seven-day time limit, while the House wanted a 180-day period.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has lobbied for revisions to the Patriot Act, criticized the compromise written by congressional Republicans.

"This sham compromise agreement fails to address the primary substantive concern" raised by civil liberties groups and businesses, said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU's Washington legislative office.

Fredrickson complained the bill would still give the FBI access to private records of "innocent Americans" without having to demonstrate a connection between the records and a suspected foreign terrorist or terrorist organization.


UNITED FOR PEACE & JUSTICE | 212-868-5545


Informant: mr_tjsmith

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