Congress Approves Patriot Act Provisions Extension

The U.S. Congress voted this week to extend controversial provisions of the Patriot Act, but not with the help of Alaska’s delegation.

The bill lets federal officials continue for four more years conducting surveillance of suspected terrorists.  Alaska’s Congressman Don Young, Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Mark Begich say it goes too far, and infringes on civil liberties.

It lets authorities conduct surveillance on so called “lone wolf” suspects – ones not known to be linked to terrorist organizations, but still deemed suspicious.  It also let’s authorities do roving wiretaps on multiple phone carriers and lines of suspects, and it grants them access to suspects’ business transactions.

In the Senate it passed 72 to 23.  Most of those voting against it were Democrats, but four Republicans also said no.

It passed the House on Thursday 250 to 153 mostly with Republican support, although more than 50 Democrats heeded the request of the Obama Administration to vote for it.

White House officials warned that any interruption in the Patriot Act provisions could harm national security. But opponents wanted more debate about exactly which provisions arenecessary.

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