Hope And Change Update: Obama Backs Extension Of PATRIOT Actby Doug Mataconis
The more things change, the more they stay the same:
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration supports extending three key provisions of the Patriot Act that are due to expire at the end of the year, the Justice Department told Congress in a letter made public Tuesday.
Lawmakers and civil rights groups had been pressing the Democratic administration to say whether it wants to preserve the post-Sept. 11 law’s authority to access business records, as well as monitor so-called “lone wolf” terrorists and conduct roving wiretaps.
The provision on business records was long criticized by rights groups as giving the government access to citizens’ library records, and a coalition of liberal and conservative groups complained that the Patriot Act gives the government too much authority to snoop into Americans’ private lives.
As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama said he would take a close look at the law, based on his past expertise in constitutional law. Back in May, President Obama said legal institutions must be updated to deal with the threat of terrorism, but in a way that preserves the rule of law and accountability.
The most egregious thing about Obama’s extension proposal is that none of the provisions he wants to extend require a search warrant issued by a judge or even the existence of probable cause. Moreover, as Jason points out over at United Liberty, the PATRIOT Act itself has been rife with abuse ever since implementation:
In 2007, FBI Director Robert Mueller admitted to abuses of the PATRIOT Act. In fact, there were more than 1,000 instances of the FBI misusing the law. According to the Washington Post, the “audit [covered] just 10 percent of the bureau’s national security investigations since 2002, and so the mistakes in the FBI’s domestic surveillance efforts probably number several thousand.”
And yet Obama wants to extend it.
The more things change, the less hope I have.