Here we go again. Three sections of the Patriot Act — the so-called 'library provision' that allows a secret court to issue orders for anything deemed relevant to an investigation; the roving wiretap provision that allows the government to get a wiretap order that doesn't specify the person or place to be tapped; and the 'lone wolf' provision, which permits intelligence wiretapping of people not connected to a terrorist group — are scheduled to expire on February 28. It's February 7. Wait until the last minute much?
In fact, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) recently suggested that Congress doesn't have enough time to consider reforms this year. That was the excuse for last year's Patriot Act reauthorization. Members of Congress had suggested that they would use 2010 to really examine the effects of the USA Patriot Act and return to it in early 2011 ready to make much-needed changes.
And where are we now? Well, Congress is betting that while they weren't thinking about the Patriot Act in the past year, you weren't either. Late in the day on Friday, we learned that the House will vote tomorrow, Tuesday, Feb. 8, on a bill to extend the expiring Patriot Act provisions until December 8, 2011. They want to sneak this reauthorization through, and they're hoping that you don't notice.
Well, once again, we're asking you to tell Congress that you are watching, that you don't buy their fear-mongering or their scare tactics, and that you want real Patriot Act reform. We've put a new action alert up urging Congress not to rubber stamp the Patriot Act once again, and we urge you to take action. For almost 10 years, the Patriot Act has given the government too much leeway to pry into our private lives. It's long past time for Congress to stop making excuses and sneaking through reauthorizations and start making meaningful reforms to the Patriot Act.