4/05/2005

Patriot Act up for renewal

From the AP:
Critics of the USA Patriot Act want the kind of real debate they were denied when the sweeping anti-terrorism law was passed 45 days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says he's willing to accommodate them, but he wants all the law's expiring provisions to be renewed. Gonzales was headed to Capitol Hill on Tuesday no less determined than his predecessor to defend the Patriot Act against arguments that it intrudes into people's lives...On the same day Gonzales was to speak to the Senate committee, Sens. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., planned to reintroduce legislation designed to curb major parts of the Patriot Act that they say went too far. "Cooler heads can now see that the Patriot Act went too far, too fast and that it must be brought back in line with the Constitution," said Gregory Nojeim, associate director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington legislative office. The ACLU is part of an unusual coalition of liberal and conservative groups, including the American Conservative Union, that have come together in a joint effort to lobby Congress to repeal key provisions of the Patriot Act. Among the controversial provisions is a section permitting secret warrants for "books, records, papers, documents and other items" from businesses, hospitals and other organizations. That section is known as the "library provision" by its critics. While it does not specifically mention bookstores or libraries, critics say the government could use it to subpoena library and bookstore records and snoop into the reading habits of innocent Americans. The Bush administration has acknowledged using it only once. But the criticism has led five states and 375 communities in 43 states to pass anti-Patriot Act resolutions, the ACLU says.

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