US extends controversial Patriot Act

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The US Congress voted to renew and US President Barack Obama signed into law three expiring provisions of the controversial anti-terrorism Patriot Act that gives law enforcement increased surveillance authorities.

The extension by Congress grants the provisions four more years on the books. The previous extension was set to expire at midnight on May 26, but the Congress passed the bill just hours before the deadline.

The Patriot Act originated under President George W. Bush as a response to the 9/11 attacks. At the time the provisions were said to be only temporary as a means of attacking the immediate threat of terrorism.

As a Senator and a candidate Obama himself was often critical of the act, yet as president he has supported and extended the law on a number of occasions.

This time he extended it without even signing the law himself. As he rested in bed following G8 meetings in France, an automated machine signed the bill with his signature for him.

The extended provisions will allow law enforcement officers to continue conducting warrantless surveillance on terror suspects, monitor "lone-wolf" suspects who are not linked to terrorist groups and gain open access to a suspects' business dealings.

Some supporters of the law continue to argue that the provisions are necessary for continued US security, yet many are unable to point to any event in which the act lead to a more secure America,.

Critics of the legislation argue that the bill infringes upon the rights and civil liberties of American and is often abused and used against citizens not suspected of terrorism.