PATRIOT ACT Democratic provisions OK'd
Three other amendments proposed by Democrats failed.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Republican-led House Intelligence Committee approved Democratic provisions Wednesday that would place modest controls over the ways the FBI can monitor terror suspects under the Patriot Act.
Committee chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., opened the session to the public in a limited way by allowing one news organization -- The Associated Press -- to attend, in a move that aides said was unprecedented.
Three other amendments that Democrats proposed failed, including one that would have blocked investigators from getting records from libraries or bookstores.
The panel approved a measure that would let one provision expire in 2010, unless extended by Congress, that allows the FBI to wiretap "lone wolf" terrorists who may be operating on their own, without control from a foreign agent or power.
Lawmakers also accepted another Democratic proposal requiring federal agents to give more detail to judges about roving wiretaps, which allow investigators to specify a targeted individual rather than a mode of communication. Investigators would have to file a report to the court when they change where they're monitoring the suspect.
The Patriot Act expanded the government's intelligence-gathering powers after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The renewal of the bill, which the panel approved Wednesday by voice vote, would extend more than a dozen of the act's provisions, including one that makes it easier for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to share terrorism-related information.
Republicans in the House and Senate trying to renew -- and in some cases expand -- the Patriot Act say it has been used in a restrained way to combat terror. Some Democratic critics say the measure gives too much power to the authorities and argue that there is little evidence the legislation has produced results.
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