House and Senate negotiators have reached a compromise agreement to extend the USA Patriot Act. The New York Times says critics from both parties found the plan unacceptable because it did not go far enough in protecting civil liberties. The plan is expected to come up for final votes in the House and Senate early next week, but some Democrats are threatening a filibuster to block a vote.
The compromise plan would retain most of the expanded surveillance and investigative powers given to the federal government after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, permanently extending 14 of 16 provisions set to expire at the end of the year. It also would put in place additional judicial oversight and safeguards against abuse. Three of the most-debated measures would be reviewed again by Congress in four years, rather than the seven-year window favored by some House leaders in a tentative agreement last month. Those measures involve the government’s ability to demand records from libraries and other institutions, conduct “roving wiretaps” in surveillance operations and single out “lone wolf” terrorists who operate independently of a larger group.