The central provisions of the Patriot Act allow law enforcement and the intelligence community to share information. This might seem elementary, but for years law enforcement had been stymied by a legal wall that prevented agencies from sharing information. For four years now, inter-agency collaboration, made possible by the Patriot Act, has played an important role in preventing another day like Sept. 11. The act's provisions helped make possible the investigations in Lackawanna, N.Y., and Portland, Ore., in which 12 people were ultimately convicted for attempts to aid Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
So what happened in Washington? The House voted on Wednesday to renew the act; it stalled in the Senate. If the Senate fails to approve the extension, the government will be forced to revert in many ways to our pre-Sept. 11 methods. Sixteen provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire on Dec. 31, including the key information-sharing ones.
Yes, those are central provisions of the act, but the problem with this contention is that none of those provisions are in the now expiring sunset bill that was filibustered yesterday.
It is simply false to claim, as some of its critics do, that this bill does not respond to concerns about civil liberties. The four-year extension of the Patriot Act, as passed by the House, would not only reauthorize the expiring provisions - allowing our Joint Terrorism Task Force, National Counterterrorism Center and Terrorist Screening Center to continue their work uninterrupted - it would also make a number of common-sense clarifications and add dozens of additional civil liberties safeguards.
Concerns have been raised about the so-called library records provision; the bill adds safeguards. The same is true for roving wiretaps, "sneak and peek" searches and access to counsel and courts, as well as many others concerns raised by groups like the American Library Association and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Nobody is saying that these provisions have been entirely unchanged, some safeguards have been added to the bill, the argument is that they are not sufficient safeguards. Giuliani is so desperate to defend the indefensible that he has to litter his article with half truths in order to seem coherent. He makes many of the same contentions that Sununu rebuked Sean Hannity for last night.