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Congressman Rohrabacher Votes Against Dangerously Expanded Patriot Act Conference Report

Dec 14, 2005

Washington, Dec 14, 2005 - Today Congressman Rohrabacher (R-CA) voted against permanent police powers granted under the PATRIOT Act Conference Report which passed the House. He gave the following statement on the floor of the House:

“For the past four months I have worked with about a dozen House Republican colleagues to promote the sunset concept in the Patriot Act reauthorization. It has always been my desire to have four year sunsets on those sections of the Patriot Act that drastically expanded the police and investigative powers of government. Instead the current legislation before us makes permanent the expansion of police powers which were meant to be in place only temporary until this war is over.

“The current conference committee report establishes four year sunsets on only two of the 16 sections sunset in the original 2001 bill. Only two sections are given four year sunsets in this report. The rest of the expanded federal police powers are being made permanent.

“The most drastic permanent expansion of these powers being in section 213, the ‘sneak & peak’ section, section 205, the ‘secret search’ section, and section 214, which permanently eliminates the ‘probable cause’ needed for use of eavesdropping devices.

“While the war on terrorism continues, I can support these powers. The efforts to use war as a way to alter forever the balance of personal liberty and legitimate restraints on government power should be defeated. Long after the War on Terrorism is won, under permanent sneak & peak rules, American citizens will have their homes and businesses searched without a court order and without legal notification, for a month after the search is conducted. Long after the threat from Islamic extremists is over, under permanent secret search rules, Americans will have their business records, phone records, credit records and computer files seized without a judge issuing a warrant with ‘probable cause.’ Long after the crisis we face today, under the permanent ‘eavesdropping rules,’ American citizens will have their phone conversations monitored also without a warrant.

“There is no excuse in peacetime to give our police or our investigative agencies wartime powers. There have been a few improvements in the bill but not enough improvements. My central theme has always been based on a need for periodical review by the Congress of all of those most drastic expansions of government powers. This is best achieved by widespread ‘sunsets.’ We should not live in peacetime under the ‘extraordinary’ laws passed during times of war and crisis. ‘Emergency Powers’ of investigation should not become the standard once the crisis has passed.”