Planned Patriot Act Renewal Highlights Expansion

WASHINGTON – Plans to renew the Patriotic Act, a collection of homeland security measures enacted in 2001, include what is being called a “wish list” for the conservative Bush administration.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R.-Kan, is writing the bill that if approved would renew the Patriot Act and expand its capacity to include the right for the FBI to subpoena records without judge or grand jury approval.

Roberts is the junior senator to Republican Sen. Sam Brownback and the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

In addition, the law would make permanent eight expiring sections of the law and make it easier for authorities to obtain court approval for wiretaps and other surveillance procedures.

In response to detractors who say the current Patriot Act lacks accountability, Roberts’ revision would allow subpoena recipients to appeal and would require the Bush administration to report semiannually to Congress on how its new powers are being used.

Opponents of expanding the Patriot Act continue to point to the law’s unilateralism with regard to checks and balances.

"While we're fighting to bring provisions ... back into balance with the Bill of Rights, here we have the intelligence committee moving to give the government more power outside the judicial system to gain access to records of Americans," Georgia’s former Republican Rep. Bob Barr said.

Some of the proposed bill’s contents were leaked by Intelligence aides under condition of anonymity Wednesday.