March 09, 2005

Idaho Delegation Sponsors Legislation To Clarify Patriot Act

Bipartisan SAFE Act introduced in Senate, similar legislation to be introduced in House

WASHINGTON, DC â?? Idaho Senators Larry Craig and Mike Crapo and Congressmen Mike Simpson and C.L. â??Butchâ?? Otter are supporting legislation to amend and clarify several particularly controversial provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, P.L.107-56, that permit the FBI to monitor activities of Americans unrelated to terrorism, with minimal or inadequate judicial oversight. The bill would not impede law enforcementâ??s ability to investigate terrorism, and would not amend pre-PATRIOT Act law. Senators Craig and Crapo and a bipartisan coalition in the Senate introduced S. 1709, the Security and Freedom Ensured Act of 2003 (SAFE Act) late Thursday evening. Congressmen Simpson and Otter expect to introduce similar bipartisan legislation in the House sometime in the next two to three weeks. The legislation will target four areas of the USA PATRIOT Act: â??delayed noticeâ?? warrants, wiretaps, surveillance at libraries, and multi-jurisdiction warrants.â??I believe the SAFE Act is a measured, reasonable, and appropriate response to concerns we have with the USA PATRIOT Act,â?? Senator Larry Craig said. â??This legislation intends to ensure the liberties of law-abiding individuals are protected in our nationâ??s fight against terrorism, without in any way impeding that fight. I am very thankful for the Idaho delegationâ??s support for this measure, and in particular for Congressman Otterâ??s strong work in the House which provided us an opportunity to focus Congressional attention on the law and improving it.â??â??These changes clarify that terrorists, not American citizens, are the targets when these federal investigations are launched and judges must approve the use of any search warrants or wiretape,â?? Senator Mike Crapo said. â??The bottom line for me is what is in the U.S. Constitution. We wrote the amendments in the SAFE Act to further clarify when and when to put these warrants and investigations into use. They will assist both the law enforcement community as well as Idaho and U.S. citizens who have concerns or questions about these kinds of investigations.â??â??I want to commend Senators Craig and Crapo for bringing forward a bi-partisan, common-sense approach to reining in some of the most onerous provisions in the PATRIOT ACT," said Congressman Mike Simpson. â??I firmly believe that both the House and Senate must remain ever mindful of the potential for misuse or abuse of the PATRIOT ACT and must make adjustments when necessary. Congressman Otter and I will be working together to introduce companion legislation in the House within the next two to three weeks and we will be seeking the support of a bi-partisan coalition of our colleagues.â??â??Recent months have seen a growing realization in Congress and by the American people that some parts of the PATRIOT Act pose serious threats to our constitutional protections. Now Senator Craig has drafted a masterful piece of legislation that addresses many of those concerns. At the same time, this bill ensures the law enforcement and intelligence communities will have the tools they need to effectively combat terrorism,â?? Congressman C.L. â??Butchâ?? Otter said. â??I want to thank Senator Craig for his leadership on this issue. I look forward to moving ahead as a delegation in pursuit of our shared commitment to freedom and security.â??The Senate bill will now go to the Senate Judiciary Committee for review. Congressmen Simpson and Otter expect to introduce similar legislation in the House of Representatives in the next two to three weeks.[30]