The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee is working on a bill that would renew the USA PATRIOT Act and expand government powers in the name of fighting terrorism, letting the FBI subpoena records without permission from a judge or grand jury. ***And deep in the bowels of hell, Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover are green with envy.
The measure being written by Sen. Pat Roberts (R. Kan.) would give the FBI new power to issue administrative subpoenas, which are not reviewed by a judge or grand jury, for quickly obtaining records, electronic data or other evidence in terrorism investigations... ***
Roberts' planned bill also would make it easier for prosecutors to use special court-approved warrants for secret wiretaps and searches of suspected terrorists and spies in criminal cases... ***
Opponents of expanding the act said Roberts' proposal would amount to an expansive wish list for the administration.
"While we're fighting to bring provisions... back into balance with the Bill of Rights, here we have the intelligence committee moving to give the government more power outside the judicial system to gain access to records of Americans," said former GOP Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia, a critic of the law.
"This is a dramatic expansion of the federal government's power," said Lisa Graves, senior counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington. "It's really a power grab by the administration for the FBI to secretly demand medical records, tax records, gun purchase records and all sort of other material if they deem it relevant to an intelligence investigation."
Democrats and civil-liberties advocates said Wednesday that it worried them that the FBI's expanded subpoena power under the intelligence committee's proposal would render obsolete the limited safeguards under Section 215. While that provision requires the Justice Department to obtain the approval of the secret intelligence court before demanding records, the administrative subpoenas under the new proposal would not.
"This all comes down to not wanting an FBI agent to have to go to a prosecutor and then the court to get formal approval for a subpoena," said a Democratic congressional official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the intelligence committee's proposal is still considered confidential. "This becomes a substitute." ***
Aides said the committee planned to meet in private when it considers the bill because the discussions would include intelligence operations.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
From the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (emphasis added):
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