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FBI Director Defends Patriot Act to Senate Committee

FBI Director Robert Mueller has asked Congress to renew key provisions of the Patriot Act, a controversial U.S. anti-terrorism law.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding the first of several congressional hearings on the Patriot Act Tuesday. Mr. Mueller and Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales said increased information-sharing powers between law enforcement and foreign intelligence officials is crucial to combat terrorism. They called on Congress to renew provisions of the law set to expire later this year.

The Patriot Act was signed into law six weeks after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. It broadened the government's power by making it easier to obtain surveillance and search warrants.

Civil rights advocates, some Republican lawmakers and many Democrats have criticized the law, saying it is being used to violate peoples' constitutional rights.