The tumultuous process of reviewing portions of the Patriot Act is about to begin. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said Thursday that his Judiciary Committee will begin a series of three hearings starting April 5 to examine the 2001 law and consider which sections should be renewed before their Dec. 31 expiration date. Only some portions are set to automatically expire.
Renewing the expiring portions of the Patriot Act is a top priority of President Bush. One section of the law that is scheduled to expire permits police to conduct Internet surveillance with only the permission of a network operator, and no warrant. Another, Section 215, permits the FBI to secretly learn what library books a patron has read and what Web sites a library patron has visited.