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    Associated Press: Democrats retreat on new privacy protections

    The Associated Press reports on the ongoing negotiations in the U.S. Senate over reauthorization of provision of the USA PATRIOT Act:

    Senate Democrats have retreated from adding new privacy protections to the nation’s primary counterterrorism law, as Republicans refused to lend support and portrayed the majority as willing to harm terror investigations.

    Lacking the necessary 60-vote supermajority, Democratic leaders settled on a one-year extension of expiring surveillance and seizure provisions of the USA Patriot Act.

    They tossed aside curbs – and greater scrutiny – on government authority agreed to by the Senate Judiciary Committee in October after spirited debate.

    The extension passed Wednesday night by voice vote with no debate. The bill goes to the House, but with key sections of the law ready to expire Sunday, there’s little chance that changes will be made. […]

    The outcome is a major disappointment for Democrats and their liberal allies, like the American Civil Liberties Union and supporters who believe the Patriot Act fails to protect Americans’ privacy and gives the government too much authority to spy on Americans and seize their property. […]

    The Obama administration supported the revisions to the law as approved by the committee.

    The three sections of the Patriot act that would stay in force:

    • Authorize court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones.
    • Allow court-approved seizure of records and property in anti-terrorism operations.
    • Permit surveillance against a so-called lone wolf, a non-U.S. citizen engaged in terrorism who may not be part of a recognized terrorist group.

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