Three controversial elements of the PATRIOT Act that expire February 28 are sadly likely to be renewed, at least temporarily, and probably more permanently. Democrat Diane Feinstein of California wants it extended until 2013. This plan has the support of the Obama administration. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans want it renewed permanently. But the original sponsor of the Patriot Act, Wisconsin Congressman James Sensenbrenner, wants a temporary extension while hearings are held before a long-term or permanent extension. In any event, three troubling provisions are likely to be extended and, as the ACLU notes, it seems they purposely waited until the last minute.
Three sections of the Patriot Act — the so-called ‘library provision’ that allows a secret court to issue orders for anything deemed relevant to an investigation; the roving wiretap provision that allows the government to get a wiretap order that doesn’t specify the person or place to be tapped; and the ‘lone wolf’ provision, which permits intelligence wiretapping of people not connected to a terrorist group — are scheduled to expire on February 28.
For almost 10 years, the Patriot Act has given the government too much leeway to pry into our private lives. It’s long past time for Congress to stop making excuses and sneaking through reauthorizations and start making meaningful reforms to the Patriot Act.