Look Out

Obama Backs Patriot Act

President Obama's administration announced on Wednesday its support for renewing three Patriot Act provisions that are set to expire at year's end. Though the Justice Department said in a letter to Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that the administration might consider modifying the act so as to protect civil liberties, there is still concern that the provisions, which allow a secret court to grant warrants and allow wiretaps, make government spying easy. "The administration is willing to consider such ideas, provided that they do not undermine the effectiveness of these important authorities," Ronald Weich, assistant attorney general, wrote to Leahy. Obama's decision to extend the provisions is not surprising to many since, as senator of Illinois in 2008, he voted to allow the warrantless monitoring of Americans' electronic communications when contacting someone overseas who the government has linked to terrorism. The American Civil Liberties Union still opposes the renewal.