Bush Campaigns for Patriot Act Renewal
By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer
Friday, June 10, 2005
President Bush campaigned anew Friday against any weakening of the Patriot Act, saying Congress must renew the counterterrorism law on behalf of those “on the front lines” of the fight to avert new attacks.
“One of the most important tools to combat terror is the Patriot Act,” Bush said in remarks at the National Counterterrorism Center outside Washington. “The Patriot Act has helped save American lives and it has protected American liberties. For the sake of our national security, the United States Congress needs to renew all the provisions of the Patriot Act and, this time, Congress needs to make those provisions permanent.”
On his visit to the nation’s new facility charged with pooling and analyzing information about terrorist threats, Bush also announced his selection of retired Vice Adm. John Scott Redd, who recently held an operations post in Iraq and was executive director of the presidential commission on intelligence failures, as director.
“He’s a man of enormous experience. He has served our country with distinction,” Bush said.
If confirmed by the Senate, Redd, 60, would replace John O. Brennan, the center’s interim chief.
Redd served 36 years in the U.S. Navy, commanding eight organizations at sea from a destroyer to a fleet. He founded and commanded the Navy’s Fifth Fleet in the Middle East in 1995 and has held top policy posts at the Pentagon. Since retiring in 1998, he has served as chief executive officer of a high-tech education company and deputy administrator and chief operating officer of the now-defunct Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.
The center Bush visited was created as part of the wide-ranging overhaul of the nation’s spy community, spurred by what critics called the government’s failure to collect, understand and share critical information before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
The Patriot Act, Congress’ nearly immediate reaction to the attacks, allowed expanded surveillance of terror suspects, increased use of material witness warrants to hold suspects incommunicado and permitted secret proceedings in immigration cases.
Now, more than a dozen provisions are set to expire later this year. Congress has begun working on renewing them amid fresh criticism — from members of both parties — that the law undermines basic freedoms.
Bush also pressed Congress to renew the expiring provisions on Thursday in Ohio.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me, that if something is working, why should it expire,” Bush said Friday.
Separately, the president named members of an oversight board being created to make sure the government’s counterterror investigations and arrests do not trample privacy rights and civil liberties.
Bush picked Texas lawyer Carol Dinkins, who was deputy attorney general under former President Reagan, to chair the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and Alan Charles Raul, an administration official in the former Bush and Clinton administrations, to be vice chairman.
The other members chosen by Bush were: Lanny Davis, once a crisis manager in the Clinton White House; former Solicitor General Ted Olson; and General Electric Co. executive Francis X. Taylor, a former head of diplomatic security and counterterrorism coordinator at the State Department.