EFF Analysis of "Patriot II,"
Provisions of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 20031 that Impact the Internet and Surveillance
With the full effect of the USA Patriot Act (USAPA) on civil liberties in the United States still unknown, and without a shred of evidence that USAPA was required to help fight terrorism, the Bush Administration has been preparing a second piece of legislation. Tentatively titled the "Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003," it was instantly dubbed Patriot II or Son of Patriot. For purposes of this report, it's called USAPA II. Recently Attorney General Ashcroft denied that a bill was in the works, although he admitted that the leaked document is "what we've been thinking."2
Whether or not USAPA II is introduced, it's clear that the Patriot Act is casting a long shadow in Washington, D.C. For instance, Attorney General John Ashcroft recently told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he had authorized more than 170 "emergency" FISA searches since 9/11. In the previous 20 years, attorneys general had only authorized a total of 47 emergency FISA searches.
The first Patriot Act assumes that lack of information caused by laws that restricted government information-gathering was a major reason for the September 11 terrorist attacks. But nothing could be further from the truth. The most objective analysis -- that of the congressional joint inquiry committee focused on the government's failure to "connect the dots."3 It noted poor coordination between the many government agencies responsible for intelligence and counter-intelligence and poor sorting of the information it did have.