Democracy Now: Obama Signs Extension of PATRIOT Act

President Obama has signed a law renewing three expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act shortly following the House’s passage of the measure in a 250 to 153 vote. The provisions empower law enforcement officials to obtain “roving wiretaps” on suspected foreign agents, track non-citizen “lone wolves” suspected of terrorism, and obtain certain business and even library records. The American Civil Liberties Union criticized lawmakers for passing the provisions without adding the proper privacy safeguards. The provisions were extended despite a warning from two Democratic senators that the U.S. Department of Justice has been secretly interpreting the PATRIOT Act in a way to enable domestic surveillance activities that many members of Congress do not even understand. Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, a member of the Intelligence Committee, accused the Obama administration of relying on a secret law to expand domestic surveillance.
Sen. Wyden: “Americans know that their government will sometimes conduct secret operations, but they don’t believe the government ought to be writing secret law. And the reason why we have felt so strongly about this issue of secret law is that it violates the trust that Americans place in their government, and it undermines public confidence in government institutions and agencies, making it harder for them to operate effectively.”

~ by wheresthemic on May 27, 2011.

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