RealNews

After Talk of Compromise, Panel Is Again Split on Patriot Act

Just a few weeks ago, critics and supporters of the sweeping antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act had reduced their differences to only a handful of substantive issues, and the two sides were talking openly about finding room for compromise in renewing the law.But now, a new proposal in the Senate Intelligence Committee – backed by the Bush administration – has sent the two sides scurrying back to their war camps. The central question is no longer whether the government’s antiterrorism powers should be scaled back in the face of criticism from civil rights advocates, but whether those powers should be significantly expanded to give the F.B.I. new authority to demand records and monitor mailings without approval from a judge. The divergent views were on full display Tuesday as the committee began its debate in earnest over the future of the Patriot Act and 16 provisions in the law that will expire at the end of the year. On Thursday, the committee will hold a closed-door hearing on a proposal to renew and expand major provisions, but critics are attacking the committee’s decision to hold the debate in secret.Full Story

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