ACLU Disappointed in Congress’s Deal to Extend Patriot Act

In a surprise move late last night, Democratic leaders in the Senate and Republican leaders in the House brokered a deal extending the Patriot Act’s expiring provisions for another four years without any reforms or oversight.

“This compromising of our rights is bitterly disappointing to all Americans who care about civil liberties,” said Kevin Keenan, executive director of the San Diego ACLU. “Our elected representatives need to hear that it is unacceptable. Democratic leaders in particular need to stop giving away the store.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner agreed to extend the government’s ability to conduct unwarranted surveillance on innocent Americans. Attorney General Eric Holder and the White House encouraged the extension of the law. The provisions at issue will allow U.S. intelligence officers to conduct roving wiretaps, access “any tangible evidence” such as library records as part of an investigation, and allow probes of suspects not connected to any foreign power (the “lone wolf” provision).

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According to The Atlantic magazine: “The three-way agreement appears to be a compromise in which Republicans have mostly gotten their way: Provisions will be extended, but on a slightly longer timeline than Feinstein had called for, without any oversight measures or sunsets attached. What’s odd about PATRIOT Act politics is that the Obama administration has agreed more with congressional Republicans than with its Democratic allies…”

Senator Reid said a cloture vote will take place on Monday evening.

The San Diego ACLU urges the community to contact their senators and representative to express their opposition to the compromise and to make repeal or reform of the Patriot Act a priority.

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