Agreement Reached to Extend Patriot Act

This is good news.

AP – House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement Thursday to extend the USA Patriot Act, the government’s premier anti-terrorism law, before it expires at the end of the month.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., announced Thursday that a House-Senate negotiating committee had reached an agreement that would extend for four years two of the Patriot Act’s most controversial provisions — authorizing roving wiretaps and permitting secret warrants for books, records and other items from businesses, hospitals and organizations such as libraries. Those provisions would expire in four years unless Congress acts on them again.

“All factors considered it’s reasonably good, not perfect, but it’s acceptable,” Specter said of the agreement.

Meanwhile, members of the party of NO! stood up to object, as expected.

“I will do everything I can, including a filibuster, to stop this Patriot Act conference report, which does not include adequate safeguards to protect our constitutional freedoms,” said Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who was the only senator to vote against the original version of the Patriot Act.

The American Civil Liberties Union immediately denounced the deal, calling on lawmakers to reject the legislation because it intrudes too far into the privacy of innocent Americans.

“This sham compromise agreement fails to address the primary substantive concern raised by millions of Americans, as well as civil liberties, privacy and business organizations and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and in both chambers,” said Caroline Fredrickson, the ACLU’s Washington legislative office director.

The vote is expected next week.

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