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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Patriot Act Runs Into Opposition, Infringes on Civil Liberties, Extension provisions fails in House

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Extension of Patriot Act provisions fails in House

Tea Party-backed freshman Republicans among those opposed

NBC, msnbc.com and news services
Feb 9, 2011
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The House of Representatives failed Tuesday to extend the life of three surveillance tools that are crucial to the United States' post-Sept. 11 anti-terror law, a slipup for the new Republican leaders who miscalculated the level of opposition.
The House voted 277-148 to keep the three provisions of the USA Patriot Act on the books until Dec. 8. Republicans brought up the bill under a special expedited procedure that required a two-thirds majority, and the vote was seven short of reaching that level.
The Republicans, who took over the House last month, lost 26 of their own members, adding to the 122 Democrats who voted against it. Supporters say the three measures are vital to preventing another terrorist attack like those on Sept. 11, 2001, but critics say they infringe on civil liberties. They appealed to the antipathy that newer and more conservative Republicans hold for big government invasions of individual privacy. 
The Patriot Act bill would have renewed the authority for court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones. Also addressed was Section 215, the so-called library records provision, which gives the FBI court-approved access to "any tangible thing" relevant to a terrorism investigation.
The third deals with the "lone-wolf" provision of a 2004 anti-terror law that permits secret intelligence surveillance of non-U.S. people not known to be affiliated with a specific terror organization. 
Among the 26 Republicans against the extension were seven freshman lawmakers backed by the Tea Party movement, whose members have said the Patriot Act intrudes on every-day life, NBC News reported. They are David Schweikert of Arizona, Tom Graves of Georgia, Raul Labrador of Idaho, Randy Hultgren and Bobby Schilling of Illinois, Justin Amash of Michigan and Christopher Gibson of New York. An eighth first-term Republican, Michael Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, joined them.
The Republican-controlled House was expected to favor the nine-month extension.

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