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Government Surveillance

Administration Takes Wrong Turn On the Patriot Act


Washington — The Senate Judiciary Committee today approved Patriot Act legislation that failed to adequately restore privacy and other civil liberties damaged when the Act was signed into law just weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Administration secured changes to the bill that diminished some of the modest civil liberties protections in the bill proposed and opposed more substantial changes that could have bolstered Americans’ constitutional rights.

"The Administration deliberately took a wrong turn on civil liberties here," said Leslie Harris, President and CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology. "The Administration even opposed civil liberties protections that President Obama sought as a Senator."

"CDT is particularly disappointed in the defeat of an amendment that would have protected privacy by raising the standard for issuing National Security Letters (NSLs)," said Gregory T. Nojeim, CDT senior counsel. "As a result, NSLs will continue to be used to obtain sensitive records about people who are two or three steps removed from the target of an investigation," Nojeim said, adding that "misuse and abuse of NSL authority identified by the Justice Department’s own Inspector General will persist."