Three leading Republican Senators last night introduced legislation making permanent provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act that are set to expire on February 28, 2011. The bill, introduced by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley and Vice Chairman of the Intelligence Committee Saxby Chambliss, makes permanent the provision authorizing roving wiretaps of terrorism suspects, the "lone wolf" provisions, as well as the Section 215 orders for business records.
"I'm supportive of providing our intelligence community and our law enforcement officials with the highest degree of operational certainty that's practicable and this bill would do that," said McConnell.
"These three provisions are essential tools for our counterterrorism agents in the field. The threat of terrorism isn't going away so we must provide our agents with the tools they need to get the job done," Grassley said. "Given that terrorist threats, including those from self-radicalized individuals, continue to evolve, we must ensure that our law enforcement agents are not burdened with new restrictions on existing authorities. We can't afford to go back to a pre-9/11 mindset and tie the hands of our agents in the field."
"The provisions in the PATRIOT Act have been integral tools in disrupting terrorist plots and protecting innocent Americans," said Chambliss. "We must ensure our intelligence personnel have the means to apprehend those who seek to destroy our way of life."
The roving wiretaps and 215 orders have criminal law corollaries that are already permanent. The lone wolf provision is specifically designed to catch self-radicalized terrorists that are not officially affiliated with a terrorist organization.