Congressional negotiators yesterday approved expansion of the FBI’s counterterrorism powers, rejecting concerns over giving the government too much authority and that issue had not been debated publicly, says the New York Times.
The bill gives the FBI more authority to demand records from businesses in terrorism cases without the approval of a judge or a grand jury. Banks and other financial institutions already are subject to such demands; the new bill includes car dealers, pawnbrokers, travel agents, casinos, and other businesses.
The provisions are part of the 2004 authorization bill for intelligence agencies, which has been approved by both houses. A proposal by Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) to limit the life of the law was defeated on a party-line vote. Durbin said, “The idea of expanding the powers of government gives everyone pause except the Republican leadership.”