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Archive for Friday, March 10, 2006

Bush signs Patriot Act renewal into law

March 10, 2006

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— A day before parts of the USA Patriot Act were to expire, President Bush signed into law a renewal that will allow the government to keep using terror-fighting tools passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Bush's signature came two days after the House gave final approval to the legislation over objections that it infringes on privacy. The president said the law has been vital to protecting Americans from terrorists.

"The Patriot Act has accomplished exactly what it was designed to do," Bush said during a signing ceremony in the White House East Room. "It has helped us detect terrorist cells, disrupt terrorist plots and save American lives."

Sixteen provisions of the old law were set to expire today. Political battles over the legislation forced Congress to extend the expiration date twice.

To get the legislation renewed, Bush was forced to accept new curbs on the Patriot Act's powers.

These new civil liberties protections for the first time say explicitly that people who receive subpoenas granted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for library, medical, computer and other records can challenge a gag order in court.

Some say the protections did not go far enough.

"Today marks, sadly, a missed opportunity to protect both the national security needs of this country and the rights and freedoms of its citizens," said Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis.

But Republicans want to take the law into the upcoming midterm elections to show they are acting to protect security.

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