Feeds

Feds beg Congress to expand PATRIOT Act

You'd be dead already without it

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

US Attorney General and former White House torture apologist Alberto Gonzales warned the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that certain temporary provisions of the so-called "Patriot" Act must not be allowed to expire as scheduled later this year.

"Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups still pose a grave threat to the security of the American people, and now is not the time to relinquish some of our most effective tools in this fight," Gonzales explained.

However, since terrorists will always pose a risk, Gonzales's argument is a slick way of admitting that the Feds have grown accustomed to the powers that Congress intended as temporary, and are determined to keep them. Which, of course, everyone has known from day one.

Gonzales also said that the provisions he wants kept have already saved lives and thwarted terrorist attacks, but he did not offer any specific examples.

He has indicated that the Bush Administration might compromise slightly on some of the most objectionable permanent provisions, such as so-called "sneak and peek" warrants, or, as the Justice Department prefers to call them, "delayed notification" warrants, that allow the Feds to break into your house secretly, execute a search, and not tell you about it until they wish to.

He said he would support allowing victims of these Gestapo-style searches the right to consult a lawyer and challenge the warrant in court, after the fact. In exchange, he would like all of the temporary provisions made permanent.

FBI Director Robert Mueller was also on hand to ask the Committee for expanded powers to issue an administrative subpoena - essentially a demand for information such as medical, banking, and phone and internet records without a judge's prior approval.

"For many years, the FBI has had administrative subpoena authority for investigations of crimes ranging from drug trafficking to health care fraud to child exploitation. Yet, when it comes to terrorism investigations, the FBI has no such authority," he complained.

However, opposition to the Act is growing on Capitol Hill. US Senators Larry Craig (Republican, Idaho) and Dick Durbin (Democtat, Illinois) plan to re-introduce previously failed legislation called the Security and Freedom Enhancement (SAFE) Act, to curb parts of the "Patriot" Act that they say are excessive.

If it succeeds, the White House is certain to veto it, and it is unlikely that Congress would get the votes to override. Thus it's probable that the Patriot Act will remain in force, with only superficial concessions to privacy and civil liberties. ®

Related stories

Patriot Act used to quell laser pointer terror
Senator calls for Patriot Act scale-back
Senators propose Patriot Act limitations

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.