Ashcroft: Bush would veto bill to curb Patriot Act

| 2/2/2004

The Bush administration issued a veto threat Jan. 29 against congressional legislation that would roll back parts of the Patriot Act, The Associated Press reported.

In a letter to Senate leaders, Attorney General John Ashcroft said the changes in the Security and Freedom Ensured Act (S-1709), 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 SAFE Act, which has not yet had a hearing in either the House or Senate, was introduced last fall by Sens. Larry Craig, R-ID; Dick Durbin, D-IL; and other lawmakers of both parties.

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 would also reinstate standards in place prior to passage of the Patriot Act regarding library records by forcing the FBI to show it has reason to think 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.