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Top law enforcement officials urge renewal of Patriot Act

[JURIST] The Bush administration's top law enforcement officials urged renewal and expansion of USA PATRIOT Act [official text] provisions in testimony Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. FBI Director Robert Mueller [official profile] asked legislators to expand the FBI's administrative subpoena powers, which allow the government to obtain records without prior approval from a judge or grand jury. Additionally, Mueller stressed that the sections of the Patriot Act which allow law enforcement agencies to share information is particularly vital. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] also urged continued support of the Act. Gonzales stated that some of the most controversial portions of the Act have proven to be the most helpful in investigating terrorist activities. Meanwhile on Tuesday, Senator Larry Craig [official site] and Senator Dick Durbin [official site] planned to reintroduce legislation to repeal key provisions of the Patriot Act. The ACLU has formed an unlikely alliance with the American Conservative Union [ACLU press release] to lobby Congress to repeal the Act's "library provision", which allows for secret warrants for certain documents, and could allow the government to spy on the library and bookstore purchases of innocent Americans. Senator Arlen Specter [official site], chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has also suggested that it should be more difficult for federal officials to use that provision. Read the full testimony [Senate Judiciary website] of Alberto Gonzales and Robert Mueller. Review an ACLU press release issued in anticipation of the Patriot Act hearings. AP has more.

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