May 9, 2005 4:56 PM PDT

Congress plans scrutiny of Patriot Act

Congress is returning to the controversial topic of whether to renew key portions of the Patriot Act.

Both the Senate and House of Representatives have scheduled hearings on Tuesday that are part of an extended process of reviewing the portions of the 2001 law that are scheduled to expire on Dec. 31. Many of those 16 portions deal with computer and Internet surveillance.

Politicians are nervous about being criticized for a repeat of the process that led to the rapid-fire enactment of the Patriot Act just weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. At the time, members of Congress were required to vote on the legislation without having time to read it in advance, and little debate was permitted.

This time around, politicians aren't opening themselves up for that kind of criticism again. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., has scheduled 10 hearings so far on the Patriot Act. Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Penn., has said he'll hold at least three of them.

The process has led to some illuminating results. One hearing disclosed police invoked the Patriot Act 108 times in a 22-month period when surreptitiously entering and searching a home or office without notifying the owner.

Another hearing last week provided additional details about how the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers used public libraries' Internet connections. Wail Al Shehri, Waleed Al Shehri and Marwan Al Shehhi visited a public library in Delray Beach, Fla., and asked to use the Internet connection in July 2001, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Wainstein said.

Under section 215 of the Patriot Act, which has alarmed librarians, secret court orders can be used to obtain records or "tangible items" from any person or organization if the FBI claims a link to terrorism. The recipient of the secret order is gagged, and disclosing its existence is punished by a prison term. Section 215 is set to expire at the end of the year.

7 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
I'm Totally Amazed Now
If I am not mistaken, our country , The United States of America, was built upon the promise of freedom, now it seems as though we are not as free anymore. I'm amazed at the way we cower and cower to these other countries all in the name of "Good Politics" then years down the road we end up going into those same countries under "Humanitarian" efforts, taking over to "Straighten it Out". I look at the state of those countries and those people let those governements get out of hand, ours is doing the same thing, it's only a matter of time. So I'm thinking if we just don't bother with other countries, take care of our own (believe me there is much that needs to be taken care of here in the good ole' USA) and let them do what they want in there countries, we would be much better off. I support our Troops wherever they are, they are under orders from there respected Commanding Officers Defending what they are told to defend and they do a great job of whatever they are tasked at doing. Defending ourselves does not mean losing our freedom, after all didn't we or don't we "Fight" for that? Maybe I am confused, I'm not a liberal nor am I a conservative, I'm neither Democrat or Republican, I'm just one perosn with a view. Maybe we shoul be a little more intelligent and not get involved in every little thing that goes on everywhere in the world. If people in other countries do not like the way things are going then THEY need to do something about it, if not then they live that way. The Patriot Act is all in the name of "Protecting us from Terrorists"! It's just one step closer to living in a police state. I wonder what "ACT" is going to protect us from our own government. Don't get me wrong I believe in government, we need to have some sort of hierarchy to keep some sort of order. I don't see why we have to have these people stand trial if we have them dead to rights committing an act of aggression toward the people of the United States. I don't see why we need to keep them in this country at all, deport them back to where they came from. We don't need people in office making decisions about our freedom all by themselves. I think a majority vote by the people of the United States should be in order, after all, it is our rights they want to set aside in the name of "Protecting Us". I don't feel that our government is working in our best interests, it seems to me they are working in there own best interests. Lobyists with lots of money tend to sway votes. What about us that don't have those kinds of resources? I think most of the country doesn't have those resources to have a proper say. Our Government structure was very good at the time of conception or inception (however you may want to see that) but times have changed, information moves faster, there are more people here then we used to have. In todays world travel is easier, people are closer, communications are better between the average people of lands, rural areas are not so "Off The Grid" anymnore, other countries are finding out about the way others live. I'm sure it will only be a matter of time that we will not be able to post to news groups such as this one. The day the internet gets regulated is not so far away, parts of it already are regulated some for good (in my opinion) some not so good. I'm not a fool, I understand that as long as you have two people you will always have two different ideas somewhere along the line. What I am saying is we do not need a handful of people making these decisions for an entire population, isn't that the thing we are supposedly fighting against over in other parts of the world?

With Respect
Posted by Brainlock (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Democracy is a ultimate failure
Always reaching for "equality for all" and pursuit of happyness etc etc.

Communism had everyone getting the same paychecks. I bet the corporations didnt like that.
Posted by wazzledoozle (288 comments )
Link Flag
Scrutiny?
Is this the same scrutiny they gave the 'Real Id" act?
Posted by pcLoadLetter (395 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Land of the Free?
If I were an American, I'd be VERY concerned about what has happened to 'freedom'. With RFID tags in passports, new national ID cards with chips capable of storing more information about you than you know about yourself -- I'd be bloody concerned.

People entering the USA are now subjected to finger prints and retina scans. Humans being cataloged and tracked on such a massive scale it is unimaginable.

Do you think that handy dandy technology will be reserved exclusively for foreigners? I somehow doubt it! Get ready my friends to stand in line and be counted -- and fingerprinted -- and retina scanned -- and DNA recorded. All in the name of Patriotism and Freedom?
Posted by milette (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.