Flickr Photo by Sister72
Congress is currently planning to reform the worst parts of the PATRIOT Act and parts of the act that are due to sunset on Dec. 31st.
If you're like me and worry about Congress replacing this act that has an Orwellian-sounding name with another act that also has an Orwellian-sounding name, there may be reason to not worry so much.
First off, did you know the PATRIOT Act was about to sunset? Okay--- well, chances are you don't because unless a Republican or conservative teabagger starts to shout or blather on like a numbskull idiot you won't know that things are happening.
Expect media coverage of this to occur when conservatives start to inflame their insurrectionist base to support a continuation of the PATRIOT Act for the sake of "national security," for the sake of keeping America in a permanent war on "terrorism."
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools in Counterterrorism Efforts Act or the JUSTICE Act. Tester announced the act on Constitution Day.
The act would do the following, according to a news release from Sen. Tester:
* Add safeguards to ensure that "national security" searches are only used to obtain records of people believed to have some connection to terrorism or espionage.
* Allow roving wiretaps under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), but require agents to identify a specific target first to avoid anonymous wiretaps.
* Repeal the retroactive immunity provision for telecommunications companies in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), so companies that handed over customer phone records to the federal government will be held accountable.
* [Amend the definition of domestic terrrorism] The Patriot Act's overbroad definition of domestic terrorism includes acts of civil disobedience by political organizations. The JUSTICE Act limits the definition of terrorism to offenses that are defined as domestic terrorism, so that acts of civil disobedience are not considered terrorist acts.
The ACLU is wholly supportive of the JUSTICE Act. On the ACLU blog, the ACLU talks of current battles with government over National Security Letters (NSL) and discusses how the bill might deal with NSLs:
The ACLU is also concerned about provisions of the Patriot Act that are not expiring, but which would be amended under Sen. Feingold's bill. For example, the National Security Letter statute, which permits the FBI to secretly demand sensitive and private customer records from Internet service providers, banks, and credit companies, without any suspicion or prior judicial approval. To make matters even worse, the statute allows the FBI to put gag orders on NSL recipients, prohibiting them from discussing the record demand. The ACLU have filed three lawsuits on behalf of NSL recipients, and most recently, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that the NSL statute's gag provisions violated the First Amendment.
More on this can be found over at RAW STORY.