Finally, some good movement happening on the polictical front — a very welcome change from last week’s ranting and raving. It seems that the recently-leaked ‘Patriot II’ draft, in addition to getting attention in the blogging world, is also raising eyebrows on Capitol Hill.
Unlike its hastily passed predecessor, the Justice Department’s wide-ranging follow-up to the Patriot Act of 2001 is already facing intense scrutiny, just days after a civil rights group posted a leaked version of the legislation on its website.
The legislation, nicknamed Patriot II, would broadly expand the government’s surveillance and detention powers. Among other measures, it calls for the creation of a terrorist DNA database and allows the attorney general to revoke citizenship of those who provide “material support” to terrorist groups.
Despite assurances to lawmakers that no bill was in the works, the Justice Department internally circulated a confidential 120-page summary and text of the Domestic Security and Enhancement Act in early January.
Given the intense attention already focused on this bill, some doubt it will be introduced soon.
“This is a very audacious bill designed to strike while the iron is still hot, but I wonder if it is still hot,” said Chris Hoofnagle, deputy counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center . “There is already resistance to new government surveillance powers .”
“This is something you have on the shelf,” said Hoofnagle. “You wait for an opportune moment, like going to war, to introduce it. They call this a draft, but this bill is definitely close to final and gives a good road map of what the Justice Department wants.”