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resident Bush used 11:3 his April 17 Saturday radio address to jump start flagging efforts to pressure Congress to extend certain expiring provisions of the USA Patriot Act. He argued the country will be vulnerable if Congress allows these provisions to lapse. The antiterrorism law was passed a few weeks after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Two of its more controversial provisions, which are to “sunset” at the end of 2005, allow the government to seize library patrons’ records without giving notice and conduct Internet surveillance without a warrant. Because the Act gave government so much increased surveillance capability, a sunset proviso was put in place over some its most controversial parts. The sunset provision, however, does not apply to the expansion of authority to the Internet, authority to share grand jury information, expanded authority over cable providers, extended scope of subpoenas for electronic evidence, authority for delaying notice of the execution of a warrant, and increased jurisdictional authority over search warrants for terrorism investigations. Bush made his first demand to renew the sunsetting parts of the Patriot Act in his January State of the Union address. Why he is moving so hard on this issue so far ahead of time is somewhat mysterious unless, of course, it’s to deflect attention from the constant barrage of press reports that pre-9/11 Renewing the Patriot Act is Unpatriotic by James C. Harrington intelligence warnings were more alarming, specific, and persistent than either he or his administration will admit. Bush obviously does not subscribe to Harry Truman’s motto, “the buck stops here.” Moreover, if the intelligence gathered before September 11 was concrete, but poorly shared with relevant agencies and mismanaged by the Administration, then there is no reason to extend any provisions of the Patriot Act. The tools in place before September 11 were good enough, but still respected civil liberty. Why then use executive shortcomings as a pretext for abridging constitutional rights? Better to devote time and energy for sharpening the tools at hand and coordinating their use than to strip away citizens’ rights in AD COURTESY OF THE BERNARD AND AUDRE RAPOPORT FOUNDATION 5400 Bosque Blvd., Suite 245 Bernard Rapoport Chairman of the Board the name of terrorism. Though Congress passed the Patriot Act overwhelmingly right after the attacks, it has since become very hotly debated. Civil liberty proponents are fighting hard to repeal or scale back, asserting it went too far in sacrificing individual rights in a rush to give law enforcement broad powers to pursue potential terrorists. Even some Republicans, who support expanded legal power against terrorism, have reservations about the law’s sweeping scope. Considerable grassroots opposition also has developed. According to the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, four states and 288 cities and counties have passed resolutions to protect civil liberties, some of which specifically criticize, or express reservations about, the Patriot Act. Bush suggested in his radio address that opponents of the Patriot Act were deluding themselves about the degree of the terrorist threat and risked handcuffing the capability of law enforcement and intelligence officials to foil terrorists. To the contrary, much of the current evidence shows that it was Administration officials who deluded themselves about the power of the evidence they had in hand. Rather than face the music, the President instead turned to attack our Bill of Rights and those who support it. We Americans should not let him get away with this. James C. Harrington is Director of the Texas Civil Rights Project. 5/7/04 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9