WASHINGTON (AP) — With just hours to spare before a midnight deadline, Congress has passed and sent to President Obama a four-year extension of three critical terrorism-fighting powers, including powers to conduct roving wiretaps and examine business records in pursuit of terrorists.
A House vote on the bill followed in rapid succession Senate action. Both votes were by wide margin and came after the rejection of efforts to change the legislation by both conservatives and liberals who contended that government use of the terrorism-hunting powers infringed on personal liberties.
The roving wiretap and business record provisions were part of the USA Patriot Act passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The third, allowing surveillance of non-American “lone wolf” suspects, was included in a 2004 intelligence law. All three were set to expire at midnight Thursday.