Stealth Implementation of "PATRIOT ACT II"
Lost amid the tumult surrounding Saddam Hussein's December 14 capture was enactment of a measure radically extending federal counter-terrorism powers. Most of the details of H.R. 2417, the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal year 2004 "are secret, including the total cost of the programs, which are estimated to be about $40 billion," noted an AP story. That amount is "slightly more than Bush had requested." The measure's publicized portions include new FBI powers "to demand financial records from casinos, car dealerships, and other businesses," as well as several pilot programs permitting data exchanges between agencies.
Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) opposed the measure, insisting that it "should outrage every single American citizen." "It appears we are witnessing a stealth enactment of the enormously unpopular 'PATRIOT II' legislation that was first leaked several months ago," stated Rep. Paul in a November 20 speech on the House floor. "These expanded police powers will enable the FBI to demand transaction records from businesses ... without the approval or knowledge of a judge or grand jury. This was written into the bill at the 11th hour over the objections of members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which would normally have jurisdiction over the FBI."
"I also have concerns about the rest of the bill," continued Rep. Paul. "One of the few things we do know about this final version is that we are authorizing even more than the president has requested for the intelligence community.... Despite the tens of billions we spend on these myriad intelligence agencies, it is impossible to ignore the failure of our federal intelligence community to detect and prevent the September 11 attacks."