Congress Passes PATRIOT Act Extension Before Midnight Deadline
Late last night, with only hours to spare before its expiration, Congress predictably extended the PATRIOT Act for another four years:
The U.S. Congress yesterday approved, and President Barack Obama signed into law, a four-year extension of provisions in the USA Patriot Act that allow law enforcement to track suspected terrorists with roving wiretaps.
The legislation was first passed by the Senate, 72-23, followed by the House, 250-153.
The measure “will safeguard us from future attacks,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said before his chamber’s vote. “By extending this invaluable terror- fighting tool, we’re staying ahead” of terrorists who want to attack the U.S., he said.
The bill’s roving-wiretap section allows federal agents to obtain a single warrant to monitor telephone calls of suspects using a series of mobile phones.
Other provisions allow authorities to obtain business and library records, and to target so-called “lone wolf” suspects who aren’t affiliated with any terrorist group.
Senator Rand Paul, a bill opponent, tried to delay the Senate vote, pressing for the bill to be amended. The Kentucky Republican said the legislation goes too far in violating privacy rights to keep the U.S. secure.
“Do we want a government that looks at our Visa bill?” he said in a May 24 floor speech. “Do we want a government that looks at all of our records and is finding out what our reading habits are?”
Paul also proposed two amendments that would have limited the act, but they were both defeated. Nonetheless, he is to be thanked for fighting the good fight. Hopefully someone noticed this: