SAFE ACT CO-SPONSORS SAY PATRIOT ACT CONFERENCE REPORT UNACCEPTABLE
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Craig, Durbin, Feingold, Sununu, Salazar, and Murkowski issued the following statement in regards to the PATRIOT Act Conference Report:
"As the original cosponsors of the SAFE Act, we are deeply concerned about the draft Patriot Act reauthorization conference report made available to us early this afternoon. The Senate version of the bill, passed by unanimous consent in July, was itself a compromise that resulted from intense negotiations by Senators from all sides of the partisan and ideological divides. Unfortunately, the conference committee draft retreats significantly from the bipartisan consensus we reached in the Senate. It simply does not accomplish what we and many of our colleagues in the Senate believe is necessary – a reauthorization bill that continues to provide law enforcement with the tools to investigate possible terrorist activity while making reasonable changes to the original law to protect innocent people from unnecessary and intrusive government surveillance.
"To support this bill, we need to see significant movement back toward the Senate position in the following areas: (1) Section 215 (library and other sensitive business records); (2) Section 505 (National Security Letters); (3) sunset provisions; and (4) Section 213 (sneak and peek). We will communicate with the conferees this afternoon and provide specific suggestions to improve the bill in these four important areas.
"For the past several years, our bipartisan coalition has been working together to highlight and fix the civil liberties problems posed by the Patriot Act. We introduced the SAFE Act to address those problems, while still maintaining important law enforcement powers needed to combat terrorism. We have worked too long and too hard to allow this conference report to eliminate the modest protections for civil liberties that were agreed to unanimously in the Senate.
"The conference report, in its current form, is unacceptable. There is still time for the conference committee to step back and agree to the Senate’s bipartisan approach. If the conference committee doesn’t do that, we will fight to stop this bill from becoming law."