As I noted last week, some provisions of the PATRIOT Act are up for renewal this month. Two bills have been introduced in the Senate and two bills have been introduced in the House to extend the roving wiretaps and FISA-related provisions that will otherwise expire on February 28.
In the Senate, Senator Feinstein introduced S. 149, which would extend the sunset date on certain provisions to December 2013 . Senator Leahy has introduced S. 193, which would extend the provisions but also introduce some additional safeguards including the right to challenge National Security Letters. The language of his proposed bill is not yet online, but a press release from his office last week provides his section by section commentary on proposed changes and safeguards. Like Feinstein’s bill, Leahy’s bill would extend the sunset date to December 2013.
In the House, H.R. 67 was introduced by Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan on January 5. That bill would simply extend the provisions but not add any new safeguards or civil liberties protections. An alternative bill, H.R. 514, has also been introduced in the House, but the language of the bill introduced by Rep. Sensenbrenner on January 26 is not yet available online.
The Senate Judiciary Committee takes up S. 193 at a business meeting tomorrow (Thursday). Will there be any actual hearings on this that might include discussion of serious abuses that were uncovered by EFF in their FOIA request?
Is putting protections in place on paper really going to do anything to protect civil liberties when our federal agencies just engage in hundreds of violations?
And would this be an appropriate time to point out that we still don’t have a genuine Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, as required by law?
Update: EFF has created an easy way for you to contact your Senator about S. 193 and the need to include these protections in any extension of the PATRIOT Act. I urge you all to make your voice heard – especially if your Senator is on the Judiciary Committee:
- Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama
- Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California
- Sen. Senator Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut
- Sen. Christopher Coons, Delaware
- Sen. Dick Durbin, Illinois
- Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota
- Sen. Al Franken, Minnesota
- Sen. Chuck Schumer, New York
- Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma
- Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island
- Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina
- Sen. John Cornyn, Texas
- Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont
- Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah
- Sen. Senator Mike Lee, Utah
- Sen. Herb Kohl, Wisconsin