Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Progress on the Patriot Act

U.S. House Judiciary Committee

The house judiciary committee is making considerable progress on the Patriot Act. Modifications have been made to answer those concerned about abuses (though none have been shown to have taken place) while doing as much as practicable to protect Americans from terrorist threats. The following press release has been put out:

Sensenbrenner: House Approves Legislation
Completing PATRIOT Act Reauthorization

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The House today by a 280-to-138 margin approved legislation that will complete Congress's consideration of the PATRIOT Act reauthorization by making 3 changes to the House-Senate compromise conference report adopted by the House in December by a 251-to-174 margin and last week by an 89-to-10 vote in the Senate.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.), the sponsor of the original and reauthorization PATRIOT Act legislation, stated, "The PATRIOT Act has become a critical tool in America's law enforcement arsenal and a vital deterrent against terrorist subversion. It has made Americans safer, safeguarded our civil liberties, and upheld our constitutional values."
"The Justice Department and other agencies have properly utilized the PATRIOT Act to detect, disrupt and dismantle terrorist cells in New York, Virginia and Oregon before they strike. The PATRIOT Act also has helped tear down the pre-9/11 'wall' that prevented law enforcement and intelligence agencies from sharing critical information necessary to avert terrorist attacks on American soil," added Chairman Sensenbrenner.

The three changes made in the conference committee have been listed by my source as follows:

1. A person receiving a Section 215 order (the so-called business record provision) will have the right to challenge its legality.

2. A person making a disclosure to a third party (where the third party is necessary to carrying out the directions of the order) is required to disclose to the FBI to whom the disclosure will be made. The change in the language creates an exception that disclosure of the identity of an attorney is not required.

3. In general, NSLÂ’s will not apply to libraries since they are not electronic communication service providers (unless of course the library provided the services necessary to be an electronic service provider.

Mysourcee also lists the following Additional Civil Liberties Protections in the new version of the Patriot Act:

"The amended version of the bill contains among other things, the following civil liberties protections:

The Conference Report will sunset in 4 years the most controversial provisions of the Act relating to roving wiretaps, section 215 order (concerning the production of books, records, papers, documents and other tangible things), and the so-called “lone wolf” provisions.

The Conference Report requires that the FISA Court judgeÂ’s order authorizing a roving wiretap to spiffy the identity if known, of the specific target of the surveillance.

The Conference report requires investigators to inform the FISA Court within 10 days when the roving surveillance authority is used to target a “new” facility.

The Conference report explicitly provides for a judicial challenge to a national security letter.

The Conference report also provides for a judicial challenge to a 215 order.

The conference Report explicitly provides a FISA Court judge the discretion to not only approve or modify a Section 215 application, but also to deny the application.

The Conference Report requires that the Section 215 application must include a statement of facts demonstrating the records sought are relevant to an authorized investigation to obtain terrorism or foreign intelligence information.

The Conference report requires minimization procedures to limit retention and dissemination of information obtained about US persons from Section 215 requests.

When documents sought relate to certain sensitive categories of records(bookstore, tax returns, educational and medical records the FBI Director, Deputy Director, or Official in Charge of Intelligence must approve a 215 order or it may not be approved.

A recipient of a 215 order may disclose receipt of the order to an attorney or others necessary to comply with or challenge the order.

The Justice DepartmentÂ’s Independent Inspector General will be required to conduct an audit of each DOJ use of Section 215 orders.

The non-disclosure requirement will attach to an NSL only upon certification by the government that disclosure could cause one of the harms specified in the conference report e.g. endangering a witness or threatening national security. "

Supporters of the bill argue this new version of the act represent balanceallance between the need to pinnocentinocent human life and the need to protect liberties our other rights. The Pro-Patricoalitionllition has really gone out of their way to address the hypothetical concerns of the skeptics despite the fact that no evidence was brought before the congress of any actual abuses of the Patriot Act as it was before the changes in 13 hearings on the law.

Despite the willingness of many to go back into a complacent pre-9/11 mindset, the terrorist groups have not. They are still at war with us, and will remain so as long as they have the ability to do so. The recent aaroundarround the world and the public statements of the jihadists show that their war continues even if we have been blessed wiimmediatelyediatly fatal enemy terrorist victories in the U.S.

Preventing a terrorist act is far more difficult than typical criminal law efforts to investigate crimes that have aoccurredoccured. And the stakes are far higher. The U.S. needs the tools of the Patriot Act to help prevent the death and destruction the terrorists seek to dish out.

No comments: