May 27, 2005 | By Donna Wentworth

Stealth PATRIOT Expansion Stalled - For Now

The Senate Intelligence Committee failed yesterday to reach agreement on the stealth PATRIOT expansion bill that would give the FBI expanded power to dig through the private records of people who aren't accused of any wrongdoing. The New York Times has the scoop (reg. req.), including a choice quote from Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR):

"The committee met in private for two and a half hours amid continuing complaints from civil liberties advocates and some Democrats that the proposal would give federal investigators too much power to conduct 'fishing expeditions' in pursuing terrorism leads. Senate Republican leaders and the Bush administration, who are backing the proposal, say it provides the F.B.I. with essential tools in fighting terrorism.

'You can fight terrorism ferociously without throwing people's rights in the trash can,' Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and a member of the committee, said after emerging from the meeting."

This is good but not great news: we achieved push-back, but it will take more than that to stop the bill from moving out of committee. Committee members will likely reconvene for another mark-up session next week, so it's vital to keep the pressure on. If you live in a state with a senator on the committee, write, fax, or call today:

Pat Roberts (KS), Chair, 202-224-4774
Orrin Hatch (UT), 202-224-5251
Mike DeWine (OH), 202-224-2315
Christopher Bond (MO), 202-224-5721
Trent Lott (MS), 202-224-6253
Olympia Snowe (ME), 202-224-5344
Chuck Hagel (NE), 202-224-4224
Saxby Chambliss (GA), 202-224-3521
John Warner (VA), 202-224-2023

John Rockefeller (WV), Ranking Member, 202-224-6472
Carl Levin (MI), 202-224-6221
Dianne Feinstein (CA), 202-224-3841
Ron Wyden (OR), 202-224-5244
Evan Bayh (IN), 202-224-5623
Barbara Mikulski (MD), 202-224-4654
Jon Corzine (NJ), 202-224-4744

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