GOP Hopes to Keep PATRIOT Act Provisions Alive

Posted March 12, 2009 at 12:22pm

House Republican leaders are lining up behind legislation that would extend a mix of wiretapping and spying provisions set to expire this year under the USA PATRIOT Act.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) are among those co-sponsoring legislation unveiled Thursday to reauthorize three provisions in the PATRIOT Act for another 10 years.

The provisions include roving wiretaps, which allow investigators to monitor all communication devices used by a suspect; the “library provision,— which allows investigators to access books and public computers used by a suspect; and the “lone wolf— provision to allow surveillance of foreign terrorists who work on their own.

“Critics of these provisions claim that the terrorist threat has diminished since 2001. But such claims ignore the deadly attacks in London, Madrid, Mumbai and Yemen,— said House Judiciary ranking member Lamar Smith (R-Texas), one of the bill’s co-sponsors.

“If we want to keep Americans — both here and abroad — safe and secure from future terrorist attacks, we need to extend these provisions,— Smith said.

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he hadn’t seen the proposal, but praised the importance of the PATRIOT Act, passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

“We’ve got to do everything we can in this time of economic crisis to protect our citizens from those who want to harm us,— he said.