Tuesday, February 8, 2011

House Blocks Controversial Provisions of Patriot Act

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. House of Representatives blocked extension of roving wiretaps, “Lone Wolf” surveillance, and search warrant authorization of “any tangible thing” connected to a terrorism investigation.

Had the vote for suspension of the rule totaled 290, the measures would have passed by a 2/3 plurality, but with only 277 for and 148 against, the motion failed by a narrow margin.

More than 2/3 of the votes to suspend the rule were cast by Republicans and some 68 Democrats crossed the aisle to vote with them.

According to Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), “The people who know this act is making us safer are the Republicans.”

Critics of the three provisions said they abroagate key elements of the 4th Amendment guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure.

The three provisions that would have been extended would have:

- allowed roving surveillance of those who use multiple methods to communicate and repeatedly change numbers of the cell phones;
- authorized “Lone Wolf” surveillance of terrorists who are not connected to any other terrorists groups;
- given magistrates the power to grant search warrants for “any tangible thing” connected with a terrorism investigation.

The White House had reportedly requested a 3-year extension of the surveillance provisions.

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