WASHINGTON -- The Senate responded to President Bush's request
for expanded anti-terrorist powers Thursday by approving a sweeping
program that would make it easier for U.S. law enforcement officials to
detect and detain suspected terrorists.
Satisfying the concerns of some civil liberties advocates, senators voted,
96 to 1, for broad measures that, among other provisions, would limit
detention of suspects to seven days rather than the indefinite time period
sought by the administration.
Senate leaders also began discussing an agreement with the House,
which is expected to pass its own similar legislation today, to put a
five-year limit on broadening the government's authority to conduct
Among the powers approved by the Senate were measures allowing law
enforcement to eavesdrop on e-mail and other computer
communications without permission from a court, to obtain wiretapping
authority for multiple jurisdictions from a single court and to deploy
so-called "roving wiretaps" that permit investigators to monitor a
suspect's communications across multiple devices like cellular phones.
President Bush is expected to sign promptly the combined package that
Congress sends to his desk.
So urgent was the legislation that Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle
(D-S.D.) kept his colleagues in session until they passed the measures at
close to midnight.
Daschle also succeeded in getting the Senate overwhelmingly to reject
three amendments by Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.), who argued
that his proposals would keep law enforcement officers from invading
the privacy of innocent people with no connection to terror suspects.
Feingold cast the lone dissenting vote.
Daschle said he sympathized with Feingold's aims but cautioned that the
Senate bill already was a delicate bipartisan compromise that gave
protection to individual liberties.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), liberal chairman of the Judiciary
Committee, said bipartisan efforts had produced "the best bill possible,
one requiring Republicans and Democrats to come together."
Leahy added: "We were able to remove a number of unconstitutional
parts the administration had proposed."
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), the committee's ranking minority
member, said far-reaching legislation was needed because "we live in a
dangerous and difficult world today with terrorist cells in this country."
To those concerned about the potential loss of civil liberties in increasing
the powers of the FBI and other agencies, Hatch advised them to
ponder "the loss of civil liberties of those who died" in the terrorist
attacks of Sept. 11.
But Hatch said the government cannot guarantee total protection of the
public "when you have people willing to commit suicide to do us harm."
Advocating the need for roving wiretap authority, Sen. Dianne Feinstein
(D-Calif.), a Judiciary Committee member, explained that "under current
law, law enforcement must get a wiretap order for each individual phone
line. Criminals and terrorists know this, so they often manage to defeat
surveillance by simply moving locations or exchanging countless
disposable or even stolen cell phones."
Besides expanding the government's power to eavesdrop on suspects
and detain suspects and potential witnesses for limited periods, the
Senate bill also mandates the sharing of investigative data between the
FBI and CIA when such information could pertain to terrorist activities.
Previously, such data often was protected by court order or by grand
In addition, the bill increases maximum penalties for terrorist-related
crimes that result in any deaths. It also triples the number of Border
Patrol officers, Customs Service agents and U.S. immigration inspectors
along the Canadian border, the boundary that some terrorists who
hijacked airliners last month are believed to have crossed. The bill
appropriates million to upgrade technology for those agents.
Additionally, the Senate legislation includes strict anti-money-laundering
provisions designed to prevent terrorists from using U.S. banks in
furtherance of their activities, and it improves the ability of federal agents
to detect such use.
 Senate Approves Broad Anti-Terrorism Legislation
The U.S. Senate approved far-reaching anti-terrorism legislation late
last night, rejecting efforts to limit the measure's impact on the
privacy and civil liberties of American citizens. The Uniting and
Strengthening America Act (S. 1510) was the product of negotiations
between the Justice Department and the Senate leadership. In an
unusual departure from normal legislative procedure, the bill was sent
directly to the full Senate without any debate or consideration by the
Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) and other
colleagues, including Paul Wellstone (D-MI) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA),
unsuccessfully attempted to have the Senate vote on three amendments
designed to minimize the impact on civil liberties. "What have we
come to when we don't have either committee or Senate deliberation or
amendments on an issue of this importance?" Feingold asked. "Each of
us cares as much as anyone in this room about the fight against
terrorism, but we want to make sure we don't go beyond that goal and
intrude on our civil liberties." The unamended bill was approved by a
96-to-1 vote, with Feingold dissenting.
The Senate bill contains most of the controversial provisions
contained in the initial Justice Department anti-terrorism proposal,
- Expansion of "pen register" authority to Internet communications,
permitting law enforcement monitoring of "routing" and "addressing"
information upon a mere showing of "relevance" to an investigation
with virtually no judicial oversight. This new authority will likely
increase use of the FBI's Carnivore system.
- Authorization of "roving wiretaps" for intelligence surveillance,
allowing the issuance of "generic" court orders that could be served
on any communications facility (including universities and public
libraries) that a surveillance target might use.
- Approval of government monitoring (without judicial authorization)
of the communications of "computer trespassers," even in some
circumstances where the affected user has permission to use the
- Authorization of searches without notification to the targeted
individual ("secret searches"), in effect allowing police break-ins to
private homes and offices.
- Relaxation of existing limitations on the sharing of surveillance
and other information between law enforcement and intelligence
agencies, removing long-standing protections designed to prevent
government investigative abuses.
The House of Representatives is scheduled to consider its anti-
terrorism bill, the PATRIOT Act (H.R. 2975), today. That measure
was approved by the House Judiciary Committee after deliberations that
marginally limited some of the most expansive powers contained in the
Justice Department proposal. The House bill, for instance, does not
contain a "secret search" provision. Significantly, it contains a
"sunset" clause that would terminate new surveillance authorities in
two years unless they are reauthorized by Congress. The
administration is attempting to have the House consider the Senate
bill in lieu of the legislation drafted by the House Judiciary
The Senate anti-terrorism bill (S. 1510) is available at: http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/s1510.html
The House anti-terrorism bill (H.R. 2975) (PDF) is available at: http://www.house.gov/judiciary/hr2975terrorismbill.pdf
EPIC's analysis of the original Justice Department proposal (the
Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001) is available at: http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/ATA_analysis.html
This legislation is designed to intimidate and suppress dissent. The best
response can only be: TO GET OUT IN THE STREETS TOMORROW!!!!!
Note: Berman, Sherman, Schiff, Waxman voted FOR this terrible bill. Let them
know how you feel!
ACLU "Bitterly Disappointed" in House-Senate Joint Passage of Anti-Terrorism
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 12, 2001
WASHINGTON -- The American Civil Liberties Union said today that it was
bitterly disappointed with the passage of anti-terrorism legislation, which
mirrored closely the highly controversial original legislative proposals the
Administration submitted to the House of Representatives and the Senate.
"This bill has simply missed the mark of maximizing security and, at the same
time, minimizing any adverse effects on America's freedoms," said Laura W.
Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington National Office. "Most Americans do
not recognize that Congress has just passed a bill that would give the
government expanded power to invade our privacy, imprison people without due
process and punish dissent."
Late Thursday night, the Senate passed the so-called USA Act of 2001 (S.
1510) 96 to 1 with very little debate. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) was the only
Senator to vote against the bill. He also introduced three amendments - all
of which were defeated by his colleagues - that would have fixed several of
the bill's more glaring problems. Murphy praised Sen. Feingold for his
"courageous attempt to protect American liberties."
This morning, the House GOP leadership substituted legislative language which
matched closely both the Senate bill and the Administration's anti-terrorism
package. It replaced the language of the PATRIOT Act, a bill that had
undergone significant revision in the House Judiciary Committee to protect
civil liberties. The new legislative language was agreed to in the wee hours
of Friday morning and its substitution passed by a very thin margin after
Before final passage, the modified PATRIOT Act (HR 2975) was met by robust
opposition on the floor by House Democrats but, nevertheless, was finally
ratified by a vote of 337 to 79, with 3 Republicans voting against and 129
Democrats voting in favor.
It is as yet unclear whether the Senate and House will have to negotiate a
compromise between their respective bills in conference. Given the
similarities between the bills, the Senate may take up the House bill, making
a conference unnecessary and "therefore forestalling any real opportunity to
make a bad bill better," Murphy said. It is possible that the legislation
could reach the President's desk as early as next week.
Pressure from the White House and the Department of Justice on Congress to
quickly pass an anti-terrorism bill modeled closely on the Administration's
proposals has been increasingly fierce over the past several days. The
Washington Post criticized the Administration in an October 3rd editorial:
"Attorney General John Ashcroft continues implicitly to flog Congress for
engaging in the balancing act that should have been his responsibility but
that he skipped past. He warns of the possibility of further terrorist
activity, which we have no doubt is real. The implication is that if it
occurs it will be partly the fault of those who insist on modifying this
"In rushing through its legislation, the Administration has undercut any
attempt at good faith negotiation with Democrats, the American public and
even members of its own party," Murphy said. "If the bill does go to
conference, we urge lawmakers to reestablish in the bill the proper balance
between the requirements of safety and the necessity of liberty," Murphy
According to the ACLU, the most troubling provisions in both the Senate and
the modified House anti-terrorism legislation now include:
Permits Information Sharing: Allows information obtained during criminal
investigations to be distributed to the CIA, NSA, INS, Secret Service and
military, without judicial review, and with no limits as to how these
agencies can use the information once they have it.
Authorizes "Sneak and Peek Searches": Authorizes expanded use of covert
searches for any criminal investigation, thus allowing the government to
enter your home, office or other private place and conduct a search, take
photographs, and download your computer files without notifying you until
Allows Forum Shopping: Law enforcement can apply for warrants in any court in
any jurisdiction where it is conducting an investigation for a search
anywhere in the country. This would make it very difficult for individuals
subjected to searches to challenge the warrant.
Creates New Crime of Domestic Terrorism: Creates an entirely new type of
crime, which is unnecessary for the prosecution of the "War on Terrorism." By
expanding the definition of terrorism in such a way, the bill could
potentially allow the government to levy heavy penalties for relatively minor
offenses, including political protests.
Allows the CIA to Spy on Americans: Gives the Director of Central
Intelligence the power to manage the gathering of intelligence in America and
mandate the disclosure of information obtained by the FBI about terrorism in
general - even if it is about law-abiding American citizens - to the CIA.
Imposes Indefinite Detention: Permits authorities to indefinitely detain
non-citizens, without meaningful judicial review.
Reduces Privacy in Student Records: Allows law enforcement to access, use and
disseminate highly personal information about American and foreign students.
Expands Wiretap Authority: Minimizes judicial supervision of law enforcement
wiretap authority in several ways, including: permitting law enforcement to
obtain the equivalent of "blank" warrants in the physical world; authorizing
intelligence wiretaps that need not specify the phone to be tapped or require
that only the target's conversations be eavesdropped upon; and allowing the
FBI to use its "intelligence" authority to circumvent the judicial review of
the probable cause requirement of the Fourth Amendment.
Last Updated: 10-12-01