Congress Renews Patriot Act


After a filibuster led to additional measures designed to protect civil liberties, the House and Senate have approved a renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act that President Bush is expected to sign before it expires Friday March 10, 2006. In all, the legislation renews 16 provisions of the bill passed in 2001 to help combat terrorism. Since its original passage, however, civil libertarians have criticized the law for sacrificing individuals' rights in the pursuit of information about terrorists.Supporters of the law argue that no evidence has been brought forth indicating that the powers of the legislation have been misused. The bill that is being sent to the president renews the federal authority to obtain usage records through National Security Letters, but the bill includes language that specifically exempts most libraries from the demands of the letters. Another change to the law allows those under investigation to formally challenge the part of the law that prevents them from revealing that they are under investigation.

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