Policy and News Updates for July 29, 2005

Italics indicates new or updated news
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Policy Updates



[updated] PATRIOT Act: House votes for renewal, second Senate committee passes extension
The House passed a bill, H.R. 3199, on July 21 to indefinitely extend the PATRIOT Act. The bill, introduced by Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-Wis), renews 14 of the 16 provisions set to expire at the end of this year. The Sanders Amendment, which puts library and bookstore records out of the Act’s reach, was not included. The other two provisions, sections 206 and 215, were limited to 10 years. Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a general extension of the Patriot Act, S. 1389, sponsored by Chairman Arlen Specter (R- Pa) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif). The Committee called for Congress to re-examine the wiretap and library provisions after another four-year period. It is likely that the Senate will vote on the bill this fall before the House and Senate measures are reconciled in conference committee.
Status: H.R. 3199 was received in the Senate. S. 1389 was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders
Sources:H.R. 3199; S. 1389; Bill of Rights Defense Committee summary

[new] Federal Reporter’s Shield Bill Introduced
With New York Times reporter Judith Miller in jail, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a bill to protect the confidentiality of sources under a new version of the Free Flow of Information Act introduced in the Senate on July 20. A new provision compels disclosure of sources when "imminent and actual harm" to national security exists.
Sources: Senate Bill and the identical House bill; The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press article

FOIA Exemption Disclosure Bill: Passed in Senate
Congress would have to disclose when it puts information beyond the public’s reach under the Freedom of Information Act according to a new bill (S. 1181) introduced on June 7 by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT). This is the third Cornyn-Leahy bill aimed at strengthening the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The bill is identical to section eight of the OPEN Government Act (S. 394) and Cornyn and Leahy hope to pass it as stand-alone legislation. On Friday, June 24, the Senate voted by unanimous consent to approve S. 1181.
Status: Referred to the House Committee on Government Reform.
Source: Sen. Cornyn statement; Sen. Leahy press release; Text of S. 1181; Congressional Record posted by Federation of American Scientists

PATRIOT Act and Protecting Library Records: House Acts
The House voted 238-187 on June 15 to limit access to library records and bookstore sales slips by investigators, despite a veto threat from the White House. Meanwhile, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted in secret to expand several provisions in the PATRIOT Act (see below for more information).
Source:First Amendment Center

PATRIOT Act: Acting in secret, committee expands PATRIOT Act
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence passed a secret bill on June 7 to expand the PATRIOT Act, leaving unclear how the House and Senate will proceed given the judiciary committees in the House and Senate have primary jurisdiction on the issue.
Source: ACLU Statement;Roberts’ Press Release; Senate Report
Action: Sign the Campaign for Reader Privacy petition and tell Congress to Support Legislation to Fix the Patriot Act

House votes to fund Public Interest Declassification Board
The House approved a bill that would fund the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) next fiscal year. Congress established the Board to advise the president on ways to prevent agencies from classifying documents that should be public. According to the House report on the 2006 Defense Appropriations Act (House Report 109-119), the House Appropriations Committee will allocate $1,000,000 to the PIDB. Even though most of its members have been named by the White House and Congressional leaders, the board has yet to be funded.
Source: Text of House Report; POGO’s group letter supporting full funding of the Board


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