Obama Seeks PATRIOT Act Extensions

Justice Department Calls for Extension of All Three Expiring Provisions

by Jason Ditz, September 15, 2009

Despite promises during the campaign that he would review certain of the most intrusive portions of the PATRIOT Act, President Barack Obama’s Justice Department today is calling for Congress to extend all three expiring provisions, though they were “willing to consider” civil rights protections “as long as they don’t weaken” the president’s powers under the act.

Among those provisions the administration is seeking to extend is the infamous Section 215: the provision which allows law enforcement access to library and bookstore records, without probable cause, for “national security” reasons. The American Library Association has been complaining for years that the provision was overbroad and many fear it could prove to have a chilling effect on the ability to read potentially subversive literature.

Another of the provisions the administration wants extended is the so-called “lone wolf” provision, which amends the FISA definition of “agent of a foreign power” to include people the government can’t establish as having any link to a foreign government or terrorist organization.

Finally they would extend the “roving wiretap” provision in Section 206, which allows the government to wiretap a person and all devices they come into contact with, rather than having to get a warrant to wiretap a given phone or device.

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