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Bush Asks Congress to Extend Anti-Terrorism Law - 2004-04-17


President Bush is calling on Congress to extend a controversial anti-terrorism law passed after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Mr. Bush said in his weekly radio address that the Patriot Act, has helped prevent more terrorist attacks. He said a failure to extend the parts of the law that expire next year would "demonstrate willful blindness to a continuing threat."

The law gave the government expanded powers to use wiretaps, electronic surveillance and other information gathering. But opponents say parts of the law violate civil liberties, giving federal agents too much power to invade privacy.

President Bush said the law is "fully consistent with constitutional protections." And he said lawmakers who oppose extending the measure beyond its expiration next year are acting as if the terrorist threat "will also expire on that schedule."

Senator John Kerry, the likely Democratic party presidential candidate this year, was among the 98 senators who voted for the Patriot Act. But he later spoke against the law, saying the Bush administration is abusing its powers under the legislation.

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