On The Road To 2008 - Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Patty Murray Responds On Patriot Act

On Sunday I sent a letter to Patty Murray with my concerns regarding Bush's spy program and the Patriot Act.

Today I received the following response:

Dear Mr. Kirkdorffer:

Thank you for contacting me about the nation's actions in the war on terrorism. I appreciate hearing from you on this important subject.

In the aftermath of the attacks of September 11th, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (USA PATRIOT Act). The Patriot Act provided law enforcement with numerous new capabilities, including greater investigative powers and stronger prosecution methods. This legislation also contained provisions limiting the new and enhanced law enforcement powers, including sunset language that causes many parts of this Act to cease to exist after 2005.

Since the passage of the Patriot Act, I have heard from numerous Washingtonians who are concerned about the scope and impact of the Patriot Act. In the 109th Congress, several bills have been introduced to ensure that the Patriot Act does not infringe on the civil liberties of average Americans. In July, the Senate unanimously passed a Patriot Act reauthorization bill (H.R. 3199) which would strengthen the rules for Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court orders and electronic surveillance by requiring judicial oversight, the naming of targets, and limiting delayed notification to seven days (or 90 with “good cause”). Additionally, the Senate bill increases Congressional oversight by requiring the government to provide specific information to the House and Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees about their use of Patriot Act provisions.

Unfortunately, the version of the Patriot Act reauthorization bill that came out of the Conference between the House and the Senate did not do enough to protect the civil liberties of all Americans. The Conference report changed the Senate-passed sunsets from 4 years to 7 years, does not permit recipients of a Section 215 order to challenge its automatic permanent gag order, does not allow a meaningful judicial review of National Security Letters (NSL), makes disclosing receipt of a NSL a crime, and changed the Senate-passed 7 day time period to notify subjects of ‘sneak and peek’ warrants to 30 days. I joined a bipartisan coalition of my colleagues in voting against moving forward with this Conference report until all Americans civil liberties are protected. To provide time to address these concerns, the Senate unanimously extended the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act for six months. I believe this time is necessary so that ultimately, a better agreement can be reached while leaving the underpinnings of the Patriot Act in place.

Rest assured, I will keep your thoughts in mind as the Senate considers the final version of a Patriot Act reauthorization bill. I will continue to scrutinize any efforts to expand on the Patriot Act and the Administration’s use of the powers under this bill. Congress must continue to remain vigilant in ensuring that neither legislation nor the Administration's actions strip Americans of our fundamental liberties. Our country is a symbol of liberty and freedom because of the rights we guarantee to all citizens. If we limit those rights in an effort to improve our security, we lose far more then any terrorist could take from us.

Again, thank you for contacting me. If I can be of service in the future, please be in touch.


Patty Murray
United States Senator

P.S. I'd like to invite you to receive Patty Murray's Washington View, my weekly legislative update by e-mail. If you are interested in receiving my update, please sign up here: http://murray.senate.gov/updates.
Ok, so her response was previously prepared, regards only the Patriot Act and it doesn't address Bush's spying program. It also does not make mention of the fact that after the Patriot Act was extended 6 months, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI) changed that to five weeks.

Still, this is Patty Murray stance on the Patriot Act, and she's aware of one more constituent that has issues with the Act.

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