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House votes to extend key provisions of Patriot Act

By the CNN Wire Staff
The U.S. House of Representatives voted Monday to extend three provisions of the Patriot Act and Intelligence Reform bill.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted Monday to extend three provisions of the Patriot Act and Intelligence Reform bill.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The bill passes by a vote of 275-144
  • The same measure failed last week
  • Under the legislation, the provisions are extended through December 8

Washington (CNN) -- The U.S. House of Representatives voted Monday to extend three provisions of the Patriot Act and Intelligence Reform bill that are due to expire next month.

The bill passed by a simple majority vote of 275-144. The same measure failed last week by a vote of 277-148, which fell short of the 284 needed to pass then because it was considered under a House rule that required a two-thirds majority. The bill extends the provisions through December 8.

Before the vote, Representative Lamar Smith, R-Texas, called on his fellow congressmen to pass the "common-sense provisions that prevent terrorist attacks, protect the American people and preserve civil liberties."

One of the three provisions, Section 206 of the Patriot Act, provides for roving wiretap surveillance of targets who try to thwart Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) surveillance. Without such roving wiretap authority, investigators would be forced to seek a new court order each time they need to change the location, phone or computer that needs to be monitored.

Another provision, Section 215, allows the FBI to apply to the FISA court to issue orders granting the government access to any tangible items in foreign intelligence, international terrorism and clandestine intelligence cases.

The third provision, Section 6001 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act of 2004, closes a loophole that could allow individual terrorists not affiliated with specific organizations to slip through the cracks of FISA surveillance. Law enforcement officials refer to it as the "lone wolf" provision.

Legislators opposing the extension called it "intrusive and "unconstitutional," taking particular issue with the section on wiretapping.

"I do not accept the argument that in order to be safe it's necessary to give up our rights and freedoms," said Representative Bobby Scott, D-Virginia.

Representative James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, dismissed such arguments, however, saying, "This law has not trampled on anybody's civil rights. ... I'm getting a little irritated at the scare-mongering going on about this law" when no provision has been declared illegal by the courts.

The White House and some Democrats prefer a longer extension of the three provisions, through 2013.

 
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