(c/o Secrecy News)


The existing controversy over reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act --
portions of which will "sunset" if they are not renewed -- acquired a new
dimension with the disclosure last month of an NSA domestic surveillance

Some now argue that the Patriot Act should not be reauthorized before the
Bush Administration's claims of inherent presidential authority to conduct
domestic intelligence surveillance outside of the framework of law (FISA)
are confronted and clarified.

"The extensive new powers requested by the executive branch in its proposal
to extend and enlarge the Patriot Act should under no circumstances be
granted unless and until there are adequate and enforceable safeguards to
protect the Constitution and the rights of the American people against the
kinds of abuses that have so recently been revealed," said former Vice
President Al Gore in a January 16, 2006 speech.

Much of the Patriot Act is unobjectionable to anyone, and some of it is
positively sensible. But it also has controversial provisions on "national
security letters" as well as several totally extraneous provisions inserted
by House Republicans.

A detailed assessment of the entire piece of legislation was prepared by the
Congressional Research Service. A copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 (H.R. 3199): A
Legal Analysis of the Conference Bill," January 17, 2006:

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