Mixed congressional signals on Patriot Act

Dec. 8, 2005 at 2:54 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., says congressional leaders have reached a deal to extend the USA Patriot Act.

Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said 16 provisions of the anti-terror law passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington will be extended for four years, CNN reported.

The measure's supporters had sought to make the Patriot Act permanent or at least not have sections of it "sunset" for 10 years. A threat by Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., to filibuster the bill led to a compromise to revisit some of the more controversial sections in four years.

The bill's critics have complained that it gives investigators too much leeway while supports claim such powers are needed to effectively fight the threat of terrorism.

"There's no doubt about the need for tools for law enforcement to fight terrorism both domestically and internationally," Specter said. "But equally clearly there's been a need for refinement of the protection of civil liberties and civil rights."

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