New electronic surveillance powers enacted in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have been used widely by law enforcement agents, but not solely in pursuit of terrorism; some new powers bestowed by the USA PATRIOT Act allegedly have been used in cases involving drug violations and credit card fraud. Even as the law enforcement and defense communities consider requesting additional spying technologies and wiretap powers from Congress, lawmakers are taking a close, critical look at the powers enacted hastily in the USA PATRIOT Act. Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee released the Justice Department’s answers to dozens of questions lawmakers have raised. Charging that the USA PATRIOT Act was rushed into law without thoughtful consideration, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said its enactment was a “shameful procedure” driven by vague threats from the Bush administration that lives could be lost if Congress did not hurry. Full Story
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