Friday, February 26, 2010

House sends extension of Patriot Act to Obama

Washington Post

WASHINGTON -- Key provisions of the nation's primary counterterrorism law would be extended for a year under a bill passed by the House Thursday evening after Democrats retreated from adding new privacy protections.

The House voted 315 to 97 to extend the USA Patriot Act, sending the bill to President Barack Obama. Without the bill, the provisions would expire Sunday.

The Senate approved the extension Wednesday. The privacy protections were cast aside when Senate Democrats lacked the necessary 60-vote supermajority to pass them. Thrown away were restrictions and greater scrutiny on the government's authority to spy on Americans and seize their records.

The Democratic retreat is a political victory for Republicans and a major disappointment for Democrats and their liberal allies who believe the Patriot Act fails to protect privacy and gives the government too much authority to spy on Americans and seize their property.

The three sections of the Patriot act that would stay in force:

-Authorize court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones.

-Allow court-approved seizure of records and property in anti-terrorism operations.

-Permit surveillance against a so-called lone wolf, a non-U.S. citizen engaged in terrorism who may not be part of a recognized terrorist group.

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