Skip to main content
The Web    CNN.com      Powered by
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SERVICES
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SEARCH
Web CNN.com
powered by Yahoo!
Inside Politics

Ashcroft warns of Bush veto on scaled-back Patriot bill

Lawmakers raise privacy concerns

Attorney General John Ashcroft cited the potential veto in a a letter to Senate leaders.
Attorney General John Ashcroft cited the potential veto in a a letter to Senate leaders.

Story Tools

more video VIDEO
The U.S. is gearing up for a spring offensive in Afghanistan as part of the effort to defeat remnants of al Qaeda and the Taliban.
premium content

Ex-weapons inspector David Kay says almost everyone was wrong about Saddam's WMD programs.
premium content
YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
Patriot Act
Civil Rights
John Ashcroft

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bush administration issued a veto threat Thursday against legislation introduced in Congress that would scale back key parts of the anti-terrorism Patriot Act.

In a letter to Senate leaders, Attorney General John Ashcroft said the changes contemplated by the Security and Freedom Ensured Act, or SAFE, would "undermine our ongoing campaign to detect and prevent catastrophic terrorist attacks."

If the bill reaches President Bush's desk in its current form, Ashcroft said, "the president's senior advisers will recommend that it be vetoed."

The threat comes a week after Bush, in his State of the Union address, called for Congress to reauthorize the Patriot Act before it expires in 2005. The law, passed shortly after the 2001 terror attacks, expanded the government's wiretap and other surveillance authority, removed barriers between FBI and CIA information-sharing, and provided more tools for terror finance investigations.

Civil liberties groups and some lawmakers, including Republicans, believe the act goes too far and endangers the privacy of innocent citizens.

The SAFE Act, which has not yet had a hearing in either the House or Senate, was introduced last fall by Sens. Larry Craig, R-Idaho; Dick Durbin, D-Illinois; and other lawmakers of both parties.

In a statement at the time, Craig said the bill was a "measured" response to concerns that the Patriot Act threatens civil liberties and privacy rights.

"This legislation intends to ensure the liberties of law-abiding individuals are protected in our nation's fight against terrorism, without in any way impeding that fight," Craig said.

The bill would modify so-called "sneak and peek" search warrants that allow for delayed notification of the target of the search. In addition, warrants for roving wiretaps used to monitor a suspect's multiple cell phones would have to make sure the target was present at the site being wiretapped before information could be collected.

The legislation also would reinstate standards in place prior to passage of the Patriot Act regarding library records by forcing the FBI to show it has reason to believe the person involved is a suspected terrorist or spy. In addition, the bill would impose expiration dates on nationwide search warrants and other Patriot Act provisions, providing for congressional review.

Ashcroft, who last year embarked on a national speaking tour in support of the Patriot Act, said the legislation would "make it even more difficult to mount an effective anti-terror campaign than it was before the Patriot Act was passed."



Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Story Tools
Subscribe to Time for $1.99 cover
Top Stories
Panel: Spy agencies in dark about threats
Top Stories
CNN/Money: Security alert issued for 40 million credit cards
 
 
 
 

International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
SEARCH
   The Web    CNN.com     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser.
CNN.com does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.