Bill Aims to Curb Patriot Act Powers
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U.S. Sen. Larry Craig (R.-Idaho) introduced legislation late last week to amend certain sections the U.S. Patriot Act, including provisions that allow the government to issue "sneak and peak" warrants allowing federal agents to download computer files of businesses or individuals without prior notice.
The Security and Freedom Ensured Act of 2003 (SAFE Act) is co-authored with Dick Durbin (R.-IL) and co-sponsored by Russell Feingold (D.-Wisc.), John Sununu (R.-N.H.), Mike Crapo (R.-Idaho), Jeff Bingaman (D.-N.M.), Ron Wyden (D.-Ore.) and Lisa Murkowski (R.-Alas.).
The legislation targets four areas of the Patriot Act: "delayed notice" warrants, wiretaps, surveillance at libraries, and multi-jurisdiction warrants.
Specifically, the legislation will focus on areas of the Patriot Act that have been particularly controversial:
"I believe the SAFE Act is a measured, reasonable, and appropriate response to concerns we have with the USA Patriot Act," Craig said. "This legislation intends to ensure the liberties of law-abiding individuals are protected in our nation's fight against terrorism, without in any way impeding that fight."
Craig's bill drew the immediate praise of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
"The Craig-Durbin Act is the culmination of months of growing pressure on the Hill to rollback the most excessive sections of the Patriot Act," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "That the bill could garner strong support from both sides of the aisle shows just how far the government has strayed from the American ideals of check and balances against overreaching government authority."