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The National Security Archive at George Washington University

CONSORTIUM NEWS - Edited by Robert Parry


April 09, 2003

DOJ and Repubs Conspire to Make PATRIOT Act Permanent

'Republicans Want Terror Law Made Permanent' (4/09/03 - NY Times)

Officials from the Justice Department and elsewhere within the Bush Admin are strategizing with Republicans in Congress on steps that would make the USA PATRIOT Act permanent. Currently, many of the most intrusive provisions of the law are set to expire (or "sunset") in 2005 unless they are renwed by Congress.

Making the PATRIOT Act permanent is in addition to even more drastic provisions sought by the Justice Dept. Details of the ultra-draconian measures sought were revealed in early February when the Center for Public Integrity obtained a top-secret DOJ early draft of the law, known as "PATRIOT II."

The NY Times reports that "Republicans in the Senate in recent days have discussed a proposal, written by Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, that would repeal the sunset provisions and make the law's new powers permanent, officials said. Republicans may seek to move on the proposal this week by trying to attaching it to another antiterrorism bill that would make it easier for the government to use secret surveillance warrants against 'lone wolf' terrorism suspects."

That measure, already approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee, would eliminate the need for federal agents seeking secret surveillance warrants to show that a suspect is affiliated with a foreign power or agent, like a terrorist group. The bill is sponsored by Senators Jon Kyl, (R-AZ) and Charles Schumer (D-NY). Republicans are angry with Democrats who say they will try to attach amendments to the bill which will impose tougher restrictions on secret warrants.

As recently reported here, the use of secret warrants -- which now only require approval by the Attorney General, thanks to the PATRIOT Act -- has already reached unprecedented levels.

Meanwhile, senior DOJ officials speaking on condition of anonymity admit the Department is consulting with Republican lawmakers on repealing the sunset provisions, but claim their role is a tacit one. "Our involvement has really been just keeping an open ear to the issue as it's proceeding, not to really guide the debate," the official told the NY Times.

[Read the source...]


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