One provision not set to expire is the national security letters (NSLs). The FBI uses the very secret NSLs to obtain private financial and communication records of Americans. A NSL does not require legal permission and usually includes a gag order, so innocent Americans have virtually no privacy or protection if the government decides to investigate them. Ex-FBI special agent and now a counsel for the ACLU Michael German said, “What the national security letters do is allow them [the FBI] to collect information about people they don’t suspect of doing anything wrong,”
Currently there are two bills in the House and one in the Senate that contain different approaches and proposals to the various expiring provisions. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are said to be working toward an agreement so that a consensus and passage can be quickly reached.
The version in the Senate, S.1692, is the Leahy/Feinstein bill, which would reauthorize all three of the questionable provisions until the end of 2013. H.R. 3845 sponsored by John Conyers (D-Mich.) would reauthorize the Records and Roving Wiretaps provisions, allowing the Lone Wolf provision to lapse. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) introduced his version, H.R. 3969, into the House and it is said to mimic the Leahy/Feinstein bill in the Senate.
While H.R. 3969 has not made its way through the various committees yet, H.R. 3845 has and is the most likely candidate to be moved forward. It is already poised to skip any formal markups. However, it would still have to be reconciled with the Senate bill.
Limiting the size and scope of the Patriot Act is not altogether a bad idea. But in order to stop the growth of a totalitarian state and return to our constitutional principles of limited government, the Patriot Act would need to be eliminated altogether.
Contacting your senators and representative and urging them to oppose the reauthorization of any aspects of, or amendments to, the Patriot Act via H.R. 3845, H.R. 3969, or S. 1692 will put them on notice that you expect them to maintain our constitutionally guaranteed liberties and protect citizens from the overreaching arm of government.