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WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) today introduced legislation to reauthorize three objectionable sections of the Patriot Act that are due to expire on February 28. The bill also takes positive steps to amend one of the expiring sections, Section 215 or the “library records” provision, as well as the controversial national security letter provision, which is not up for reauthorization.
The provisions of the Patriot Act that are due to expire next month are the John Doe roving wiretap provision, which allows law enforcement to conduct surveillance without identifying the person or location to be wiretapped; Section 215, or the “library records” provision, which allows the government to gain access to “any tangible thing” during investigations; and the “lone wolf” provision, which permits surveillance of “non-US” persons who are not affiliated with a terrorist group. All three provisions lack proper and fundamental privacy safeguards.
Last year, Congress passed a one-year extension of the three provisions without making much-needed changes to the overly broad surveillance law.
The following can be attributed to Michelle Richardson, American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel:
“While this bill makes important changes to the Patriot Act to increase oversight of its powers, it unfortunately allows many dangerous provisions to continue. Since its passage nearly a decade ago, the Patriot Act has been used improperly again and again by law enforcement to invade Americans’ privacy and violate their constitutional rights. Rather than allow these provisions to be rubberstamped in February, Congress should seize this opportunity to make reforming the Patriot Act a priority.”
For more information on the ACLU’s work on the Patriot Act, go to: www.reformthepatriotact.org