President Bush says reauthorizing security measures passed following the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington are critical to preventing another attack in the United States. Mr. Bush wants Congress to finish work on a series of laws known as the Patriot Act.
Members of both houses of Congress have reached broad agreement on reauthorizing the Patriot Act after the White House agreed to accept a four-year extension of some provisions instead of the seven-year extension initially sought.
The compromise also lifts criminal penalties for Americans discussing publicly the receipt of a government request for certain types of records and does not expand the government's ability to seek the death penalty in some terrorism related crimes.
The legislative deal must still pass votes in the House and Senate. President Bush wants that done promptly so he can sign into law the reauthorization of rules that he says have been strong weapons for pursuing terrorists.
"America's law enforcement and intelligence personnel have put the Patriot Act to wise and effective use while protecting our civil liberties," he said. "They have used the law to prosecute terrorist operatives and supporters or break up terror cells in New York, Oregon, Virginia, California, Texas, and Ohio. The Patriot Act has accomplished exactly what it was designed to do - it has protected American liberty and saved American lives."
In his weekly radio address, President Bush said the Patriot Act has helped tear down the legal and bureaucratic wall that kept law enforcement and intelligence authorities from sharing information about terrorist threats.
Some civil libertarians have expressed concerns about Patriot Act provisions loosening judicial oversight on wiretaps and requiring libraries to turn over information about people not formally charged with a crime.
President Bush says the judicial branch has a strong oversight role and Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez delivers regular reports to Congress.
In its final report card this past week, the bipartisan commission that investigated the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks gave the government a grade of "D" on matters of protecting privacy under the Patriot Act, saying there is no funding, staff or leadership for a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.
In the Democratic radio address, Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed said President Bush has seriously eroded his credibility with the American people by failing to provide Americans with candid information about the war in Iraq.
"I have found it disturbing that the Bush Administration has attacked the patriotism of those who question the Administration's policies in Iraq," commented Senator Reed. "Baseless, partisan attacks won't help us win the war, won't help the troops, and won't protect our nation from our enemies."
Senator Reed says following the current course in Iraq is a mistake, and he wants President Bush to be more candid and honest about what it will take to succeed there.
The president has launched a public relations campaign to explain his plan for victory in Iraq, but Senator Reed says Mr. Bush has still failed to provide enough details. The president continues that campaign Monday with a speech in the city of Philadelphia.