US House defeats anti-terrorism powers extension
By Olivier Knox AFP – 1 day ago
WASHINGTON — The US House of Representatives rejected a nine-month extension of counter-terrorism surveillance powers at the heart of the Patriot Act adopted after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
With the three provisions set to expire February 28, lawmakers voted 277-148 in favor of legislation to renew them until December 8, falling short of the two-thirds majority needed under House rules.
The surprise vote came amid a bitter battle over how long to extend the intrusive powers at the core of the signature legislative response to the terrorist strikes nearly 10 years ago, and with what safeguards.
The provisions allow authorities to use roving wiretaps to track an individual on several telephones; track a non-US national suspected of being “lone-wolf” terrorist not tied to an extremist group; and to seize personal or business records seen as critical to an investigation.
US President Barack Obama, wading into the fray, pressed lawmakers to extend those authorities — which supporters say fill key gaps in the fight against extremists — through December 2013.
Obama “strongly supports extension of three critical authorities that our nation’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies need to protect our national security,” the White House said in a statement.