House approves Patriot Act, Senate panel rejects broad NSA inquiry


Now it’s just about on the way to W to sign:

WASHINGTON – Congress was poised to send President Bush a renewal of the Patriot Act Tuesday night after months of bitter fighting, authorizing law enforcement to keep its anti-terror tools but with some new curbs on government prying.

A final House vote and Bush’s signature would make 14 provisions of the 2001 law permanent before they expired on March 10. Two other provisions would have expired in four years.

A two-month Senate filibuster fueled by the revelation that Bush had authorized secret, warrantless wiretapping forced Congress to postpone the original Dec. 31 expiration deadline β€” twice. The standoff forced the White House to accept some new restrictions on information gathering in terrorism investigations.

Adding those protections gave the legislation enough support to pass the Senate overwhelmingly.

During a push for passage in December, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the monitoring and investigating authorized by the act had helped prevent specific planned attacks.

“The tools of the Patriot Act have been extremely valuable in allowing us to deter and prevent attacks, to prosecute terrorism and to prosecute other kinds of crimes,” Gonzales said.

“Intense congressional and public scrutiny has not produced a single substantiated claim that the Patriot has been misused to violate Americans’ civil liberties,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said Tuesday. “Opponents of the legislation have relied upon exaggeration and hyperbole to distort a demonstrated record of accomplishment and success.”

In another victory today for the admin, a Senate panel has rejected the call for a broad inquiry into the NSA surveillance ‘scandal’.

(Hat tip: Decision ’08)

The admin did suffer a defeat today when a GOP-led efforts to block the challenge to the controversial UAE port deal “collapsed” (as the WaPo described it).

Oh well. You know how the song goes: “Two outta three ain’t bad.”

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