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Bush Calls for Renewal of Patriot Act Provisions

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President Bush wants Congress to make permanent broader law enforcement powers put in place following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Congressional Democrats say the Patriot Act is a threat to civil liberties.

President Bush says America's response to the attacks in New York and Washington has dealt terrorists a series of powerful blows. But while they are on the run, Mr. Bush says terrorists are still actively seeking to do the nation harm.

"The terrorists are patient and determined. And so are we," he said. "They are hoping that we will get complacent and forget our responsibilities. Once again, they are proving that they do not know our nation. The United States of America will never let down its guard."

Standing before state police at a training academy in the Midwest state of Ohio, the president reminded Americans of their fears after the 2001 attacks, saying the broader police powers that followed were the clear, considered response of a nation at war.

The Patriot Act was written to make its broader police powers temporary in a compromise meant to allay the fears of civil libertarians wary of state surveillance.

With 16 of those provisions set to expire at year's end, the president is campaigning to make them permanent. He is facing opposition from Congressional Democrats and some Republicans who say they support much of the act, including information sharing between law enforcement and intelligence officers.

It is greater powers of search and seizure that concern opponents as the act allows law enforcement officers to search homes and businesses without notifying the owners. There are also lower thresholds for searches and wire-taps that do not require subpoenas from federal judges.

Civil libertarians want law enforcement officials to show evidence of a connection to terrorism before employing the act's powers.

President Bush says all provisions of the Patriot Act are fully consistent with the U.S. Constitution and there is strong judicial oversight. In the four years it has been in force, he says Congressional Democrats have found no reported abuses.

"Remember that the next time you hear someone make an unfair criticism of this important, good law," the president said. "The Patriot Act has not diminished American liberties. The Patriot Act has helped to defend American liberties."

In confronting potential high tech threats of computer espionage and cyberterrorism, President Bush wants Congress to extend protections for internet service providers who can now voluntarily turn over e-mails to law enforcement without the fear of civil lawsuits from their customers.

"Terrorists are using every advantage they can to inflict harm," he said. "Terrorists are using every advantage of 21st century technology, and Congress needs to ensure that our law enforcement can use that same advantage as well."

Mr. Bush says U.S. law enforcement officers have brought charges against more than 400 suspects thanks to the Patriot Act and more than half of those have been convicted.

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