After 2009 – a year when federal prosecutors charged more suspects with terrorism than in any year since the attacks of September 11, 2001 – and in today’s atmosphere of heightened fear triggered by the aborted plot to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day, Congress will begin again this month to consider reauthorization of key parts of the USA Patriot Act.
The act was passed by a frightened Congress, with very little debate, just 45 days after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the hijacked airliner that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Only one US senator – Democrat Russ Feingold of Wisconsin – voted against the legislation.
Three sections of the Act were due to “sunset” – expire, unless reauthorized – on December 31 of last year. Congress must amend those sections that have been found unconstitutional or have been abused to collect information on innocent people. The House of Representatives passed legislation, but the Senate Judiciary Committee was unable to agree on language and voted to temporarily extend consideration until next month.
[Read more at Truthout]