Patriot Act Extension Deal reached

May 20, 2011, 10:03 by R.E. Christian

Leaders in the U.S. Congress forged a deal for a four-year extension of key provisions of the Patriot Act due to expire in a week, aides said.

A senior Democratic aide said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner reached agreement Thursday on an extension of three major Patriot Act provisions until June 1, 2015, The Washington Post reported Friday.

The Senate will take up the measure first, with a procedural vote to end debate planned for Monday and a vote on final passage possibly occurring Wednesday, aides said. The House would take up the bill by the end of the week.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement, "The speaker supports this common-sense proposal because this law has been crucial to detecting and disrupting terrorist plots and protecting the American people."

The three provisions, set to expire May 27, include one authorizing the FBI to use roving wiretaps on surveillance targets; one permitting the government to access "any tangible items," such as library records, during a surveillance; and a "lone wolf" provision allowing the surveillance of targets not tied to an identified terrorist group.

Some Republicans and Democrats oppose any extension, arguing the three provisions violate Americans' civil liberties under the cloak of national security, the Post said.

After a hearing last week in which FBI Director Robert Mueller gave a classified briefing to House Republican members, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, said he was inclined to vote against any extension of the provisions, although he was "still studying the issues."

"My concern is: I understand that we need to protect our homeland but at the same time, we need to protect the privacy and liberty of our constituents," Labrador said.

Source: UPI