Bush is pushing the Patriot Act hard. He sees its renewal and expansion as essential. Watch your privacy rights slip away. Any measures to weaken it will get a veto.

More than a dozen provisions of the law are set to expire by late October 2005 unless renewed by Congress. These include authority for judges to issue search warrants that apply nationwide, authority for FBI and criminal investigators to share information about terrorism cases and the FBI’s power to obtain records in terrorism-related cases from businesses and other entities, including libraries.

During his re-election campaign, Bush repeatedly called the Patriot Act “a powerful tool in the war on terror” and urged lawmakers not to weaken or kill it. “Congress needs to make sure law enforcement has the tools necessary to defend the country,” he said in August.

One bipartisan bill, dubbed the Security and Freedom Assured Act, would tighten standards for issuance of so-called “sneak and peek” warrants — warrants issued without immediate notification of the target — require that “roving” wiretaps identify the person or place under surveillance and exempt libraries from parts of the law that allow FBI expanded access to records.

“This legislation intends to ensure the liberties of law-abiding individuals are protected in our nation’s fight against terrorism, without in any way impeding that fight,” said a prime sponsor, Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho.

The Bush administration, however, has threatened to veto that bill if it passes.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding