U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar is front and center today as he stands with Senators Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) who have introduced the SAFE Act, which will eliminate some of the most controversial and privacy intrusive features of the USA Patriot Act. Salazar says he arrived at the need for revision of the Patriot Act by viewing it through the lens of a law enforcement officer.
He said the government must balance the needs to fight terrorists and preserve civil liberties. "I believe the SAFE Act achieves that balance."Among the SAFE Act's changes:
- Putting a seven-day time limit on the authority for "sneak-and-peek" searches. The Patriot Act lets the government keep searches secret for weeks or months.
- Forbidding wiretaps without specifying the person or phone line to be tapped.
- Limiting access to personal documents, including library records, without letting suspects challenge the government in court.
- Narrowing the definition of a "terrorist" group. Right now, anti-abortion protesters and other groups fear they could be branded as terrorists. The bill is backed both by conservative groups like Gun Owners of America and liberal groups like the ACLU.