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Hastert promises House passage of Patriot Act renewal compromise

[JURIST] Speaker of the US House of Representatives Dennis Hastert (R-IL) [official website] on Friday announced his support for a deal [JURIST report] reached earlier this week by Senate Republicans and the White House on long-term renewal of the USA Patriot Act [JURIST news archive]. Key Democrats and Republicans in the Senate had expressed strong reservations about earlier versions of a renewal agreement, which they said left too broad the power of the federal government to conduct ongoing surveillance and warrantless searches at the expense of individual liberties. The reservations led to a renewal bill stalling in the Senate [JURIST report] in December, a development which forced two short-term extensions to keep important provisions from expiring.

Changes in the new compromise version of the legislation include protections for libraries from special non-judicial subpoenas, and giving individuals an opportunity to challenge gag orders when subpoenaed by federal investigators seeking library, medical or other sensitive records. The Senate will likely vote on the extension next week, and Speaker Hastert on Friday promised that if the legislation went through there it would pass the House as well. Reuters has more.

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