news analysis The U.S. Congress has approved a four-year extension of the Patriot Act despite warnings from senators that the Justice Department has twisted the 2001 law into a "secret" surveillance mechanism far broader than Americans realize.
"I believe that when more of my colleagues and the American public come to understand how the Patriot Act has actually been interpreted in secret, they will insist on significant reforms too," said Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who tried to block the renewal. Sen. Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat, offered a similar warning.
The cautionary note from two members of the Senate Intelligence committee -- who are briefed on classified activities and are tasked with overseeing the NSA, CIA, and the Justice Department's "intelligence activities" -- is highly unusual, and perhaps even unprecedented.
And it's prompted intense speculation about what kind of constitutionally dubious surveillance, which could include vacuuming up cell phone location records, the Obama administration might be engaging in...[Full Article]