Thursday, September 23, 2004

The NYTimes > Washington > Opponents Say Republicans Plan Sequel to Patriot Act

The New York Times > Washington > Opponents Say Republicans Plan Sequel to Patriot Act:
"House Democratic leaders and civil liberties advocates said Wednesday that a Republican bill responding to the findings of the Sept. 11 commission would go well beyond the panel's recommendations. It would call for broad new powers for law enforcement agencies, they said, and include new authority to conduct electronic surveillance in terrorism investigations.

House Republican officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the bill would incorporate new law enforcement authority that was not specifically requested by the commission, which called for an overhaul of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency and other federal agencies responsible for intelligence and counterterrorism.

A spokesman for Representative J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, the House speaker, said pre-emptive criticism of the bill was unwarranted because as of Wednesday evening, the legislation was still not in final form and was not ready for release to the public.

But the spokesman, John Feehery, acknowledged that the bill would call for broadened surveillance powers for law enforcement and intelligence agencies that 'will help us get terrorists and those who help terrorists.' Among the provisions, Mr. Feehery said, are ones to permit surveillance of so-called lone-wolf terrorism suspects who operate without the clear support of terrorist groups."

The American Civil Liberties Union said it had seen drafts of chapters of the bill, which is expected to be introduced as early as Thursday, and described it as "Patriot Act 2," a reference to the landmark antiterrorism bill passed after the Sept. 11 attacks to give sweeping new powers to law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

"Nowhere in its recommendations does the 9/11 commission ask Congress to pass a sequel to the Patriot Act," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the Washington office of the A.C.L.U.…
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