Speaking at a Justice Department ceremony on Monday, Bush said the Patriot Act had been “vital to our success in tracking terrorists and disrupting their plans” and he urged lawmakers to renew elements of the law that will expire at the end of this year.
“We must not allow the passage of time or the illusion of safety to weaken our resolve in this new war,” Bush said.
Senator Russ Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat who was the only senator to vote against the legislation, said Bush must address concerns about its impact on civil liberties.
“I am disappointed that the president is continuing to seek complete and immediate reauthorisation of the USA Patriot Act, with no acknowledgment of the civil liberties concerns raised by people all across the political spectrum,” Feingold said.
Call for reflection
“Some aspects of the Patriot Act went too far and members from both parties have said they need to be re-evaluated.”
Among more than a dozen provisions set to expire at year’s end are some of the more controversial measures that relate to authority for FBI and criminal investigators to share information about terrorism cases and the FBI’s power to obtain certain records in such cases.
“I am disappointed that the president is continuing to seek complete and immediate reauthorisation of the USA Patriot Act, with no acknowledgment of the civil liberties concerns raised by people all across the political spectrum”
Bush officially welcomed new Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Monday. He was confirmed despite accusations he sanctioned torture of terrorism suspects.
Gonzales replaced John Ashcroft, who was a lightning rod for criticism about how he applied certain provisions of the Patriot Act that were passed after the 9/11 attacks.
The former White House counsel, Gonzales faced harsh questions at his confirmation hearing over whether he was involved in creating policies that contributed to the torture of foreign detainees.
The US Senate confirmed him in his role, but with the second highest number of “no” votes for a successful nominee in that post.
Bush firmly stood by his choice for the country’s top law enforcement post. “As he embarks on all these duties, Attorney General Gonzales has my complete confidence,” Bush said.