Of course only a minority of the law's sections are set to expire, but
it's difficult to fit that into a Subject: line.
Previous Politech messages:
CDT's response to DOJ -- no "dire consequences":
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2005
TDD (202) 514-1888
Consequences of Letting the USA PATRIOT Act Expire
If the USA PATRIOT Act is allowed to expire, we will return to a
pre-9/11 mode of information sharing where there are not clear rules
governing investigators' ability to share information with each other,
where terrorists and spies can use technology against us, and where it
is more difficult to investigate a potential terrorist attack that it is
to catch a drug dealer, a mobster, or a white collar criminal.
* Confusion will once again be injected into the questions about what
and how information may be shared between criminal investigators and
* Investigators would possibly be several steps behind sophisticated
terrorists and spies who frequently change phones to evade surveillance.
* In the vast majority of cases, intelligence investigators will no
longer be able to trace the calls of terrorists and spies.
* It will once again be illegal for a law enforcement officer who learns
of an imminent terrorist threat through a wiretap to disclose that
threat to our nation's intelligence agencies without first obtaining a
* American companies will not be able to ask law enforcement to assist
in disrupting and investigating a cyber attack.
* An Internet service provider that voluntarily discloses to the police
an e-mail threatening an imminent terrorist attack can once again be
sued for doing so.
* Investigators will no longer be able to use the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act's investigative tools to pursue "lone wolf" terrorists.
More specific consequences include:
Sections 201 and 202-Wiretap predicates: These sections provided
authority for wiretaps relating to certain offenses that terrorists are
likely to commit (e.g. material support of terrorist organizations,
chemical weapons offenses, and using weapons of mass destruction) to the
list of predicate offenses in the federal wiretap statute (18 USC =A7
2516(1)). They also added offenses under the Computer Fraud and Abuse
Act (including computer espionage) to the list of predicate offenses in
the federal wiretap statute. If the provisions sunset, investigators
seeking to prevent these kinds of high consequence offenses will no
longer be able to use wiretaps to do so.
Section 203(b) and (d)-Criminal-derived Information Sharing: If this
section sunsets, critical foreign intelligence information discovered
through wiretaps or other criminal investigative methods cannot be
shared from law enforcement investigators to intelligence personnel
absent a court order-severely constraining our intelligence agencies'
ability to "connect the dots."
Section 206-Roving Wiretaps: Without this authority, the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court would be unable to authorize
investigators to maintain surveillance when a terrorist or spy engages
in a staple of intelligence tradecraft: switching phones and
telecommunication providers. Sophisticated terrorists and spies could
more easily thwart government surveillance.
Section 207-FISA Surveillance: Section 207 provided an extended
duration for certain FISA electronic surveillance and physical search
orders and renewals. This small but important change has saved tens of
thousands of man-hours since its passage. Moreover, institutional or
procedural improvements implemented in reliance on this provision will
no longer be available. It is likely that a reversion to the old
duration could create a significant disruption in foreign intelligence
Section 212-Emergency Disclosure of Information: This section protects
Internet service providers (ISP's) that disclose customer records to law
enforcement in emergencies involving immediate risk of death or serious
physical injury. This provision has been critical in situations
involving bomb threats, rescuing both children and an elderly lady who
had been kidnapped, and reaching out to individuals who have made
suicide threats. This provision has saved lives.
Sections 214 and 215-Pen Registers and Business Records: If these
provisions expire, the pre=ADexisting authorities to request pen registers
and orders to disclose business records would be virtually useless in
the great majority of terrorism investigations.
Section 218-Breaking Down "The Wall": Expiration would create immediate
uncertainty about the legality of information sharing, coordination, and
cooperation between national security and law enforcement personnel.
While some activities may continue to be permissible under other
provisions of law, the practical impact could be an end to such
cooperation while an assessment is made of what is and is not
permissible, reversing the progress that has been made in this area
since September 11, 2001.
Section 220-Nationwide Search Warrants: If this provision expires,
federal judges will no longer be able to issue nationwide search
warrants (i.e. allow a judge to issue warrants for searches to be
conducted outside his district) to obtain unopened e-mails stored on an
ISP's computer server, greatly hampering certain investigations
involving large ISP's.
Section 6001 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of
2004-The "Lone Wolf" Provision: Investigators' ability to use FISA's
investigative tools to pursue individual terrorists intending to commit
acts of international terrorism was added after the USA PATRIOT Act but
was tied to the Act's sunset provision, and this authority will expire
on December 31, 2005 unless it is reauthorized.
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