Feeds

Feds beg Congress to expand PATRIOT Act

You'd be dead already without it

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

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

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Forget silly privacy worries - help biometrics firms make MILLIONS
Beancounter reckons dabs-scanning tech is the next big moneypit
Microsoft's Office Delve wants work to be more like being on Facebook
Office Graph, social features for Office 365 going public
Alibaba swings a large one with STONKING IPO legal bills
Chinese e-commerce beast searches for $21bn from investors
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
EMC has nothing to say on VMware sale plan
Rumour and counter-rumour swirl around Wall Street
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.