House to vote on Patriot Act renewal

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives is expected to pass a White House-backed bill [summary; conference report, PDF] Wednesday that would reauthorize sections of the USA Patriot Act [PDF text; JURIST news archive], although the legislation may still face a filibuster in the Senate. Certain provisions of the Patriot Act, the country's primary anti-terrorism law, are due to expire on December 31 and Republicans including House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) [official website] say that national security is at risk if Congress does not approve the bill quickly. In his weekly radio address Saturday, President Bush urged [JURIST report] Congress to vote quickly and limit debate on the bill. Under the reauthorization, two of the most controversial provisions would be extended for a further four years, notably the use of roving wiretaps and FBI access to library, hospital and business records. The legislation would also permit courts to review issuances of National Security Letters [PDF sample text; ACLU backgrounder], which compel third parties to produce these documents during terrorism investigations. The ACLU has called for Senators to reject the reauthorization agreement [press release] and has raised objections [Washington Post report] to a provision in the proposal which they say could give the Secret Service expanded powers to arrest and charge protesters accused of disrupting major events. AP has more.

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