WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15) today voted for H.R. 514, a bill to reauthorize three provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-56) through December 8, 2011. The provisions, which are set to expire at the end of the month, have become important tools in the war against terrorism since their implementation following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
“By encouraging greater cooperation between domestic law enforcement agencies and our nation’s sophisticated intelligence community, these provisions have provided homeland security officials with the capabilities they need to protect the American people from terrorist attacks,” Dent said.
When enacted in 2001, the mission of the USA PATRIOT Act was to provide appropriate government officials the authority and tools to track, arrest and prosecute terrorists who sought to harm Americans. The three provisions reauthorized in H.R. 514 are amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 (P.L. 95-511), the statutory framework for lawful intelligence activities.
Provisions set to expire at the end of the month currently provide the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) the ability to seek FISA court approval to access tangible items connected to individuals involved in foreign intelligence or terrorism cases, and use multipoint wiretaps, which help officials keep pace with terrorists who use numerous communications devices to avoid detection. The bill also reauthorizes a provision that modifies the definition of an “agent of a foreign power” to include a foreign terrorist working as a so-called ‘lone wolf’ – an individual who may not have a formal affiliation with a foreign state or terrorist organization.
In early 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives extended these provisions for an additional year, with the support of the Obama Administration, through the passage of H.R. 3961, the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act of 2009. The Administration again expressed its strong support for reauthorizing these provisions through 2011, calling them, “authorities that our nation's intelligence and law enforcement agencies need to protect our national security.”