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Many Bills, Few Changes

Lisa Graves,
Legislative Counsel
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July 15, 2005

Besides the bill just introduced in the Senate Intelligence Committee, there are three other bills to reauthorize, all of which fall short of what is needed to bring the Patriot Act’s far-reaching and intrusive powers in line with the Constitution:

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s bill from June would make the expiring provisions of Patriot permanent and expand its powers. It would allow the FBI to write its own search orders that businesses would be compelled to comply with for literally “any tangible thing.”

The FBI would not have to show any specific facts connecting a foreign power or foreign terrorist with the records they sought: medical records, employment records, gun purchase records, tax records, credit reports, insurance records, bank statements, and records from car dealerships, etc.

They would not even have to get court approval to issue one of these subpoenas. And the recipient of one of these subpoenas is gagged forever from telling anyone about it. This bill also enables law enforcement to track your postal mail if the FBI requests it.

The bill is already awaiting action on the Senate floor, but this bill is really a foil, a chit to force through other “more palatable” bills that would make Patriot largely permanent with no real change.
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