Bush keeps up push for renewal of Patriot Act
By Richard Benedetto, USA TODAYThu Jul 21, 7:29 AM ET
President Bush, speaking nearly two weeks after London's terrorist attacks, reminded Americans on Wednesday that the nation is still at war. He said Congress needs to renew terror-fighting tools in the USA Patriot Act.
Bush underscored his remarks by speaking at the Dundalk Marine Terminal, where he got a demonstration of state-of-the-art cargo-screening equipment designed to detect chemical, nuclear or conventional bombs planted by terrorists.
"We're focused here," Bush said. "When you're at war, you can't lose sight of the fact that you're at war."
At least 56 people died in London on July 7 when three subway trains and one bus were destroyed by suicide bombers.
Shortly after Bush's speech, Maryland Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski (news, bio, voting record) issued a statement saying the president has not put enough money into port security and that at least $8 billion is needed to effectively safeguard the nation's ports. Bush said he has budgeted $2.3 billion for port security this year.
"We don't need port photo ops from the president. We need dollars," said Mikulski, emphasizing that the site of Bush's speech bore no direct relation to the Patriot Act.
Bush faces opposition from Democrats and civil liberties activists in his efforts to renew 16 provisions of the Patriot Act that expire at the end of the year.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll taken in June found that 59% of Americans favor extending the act.
The act, enacted after the 9/11 terrorist strikes, gives law enforcement agencies broad powers to combat terrorism. Bush said the act broke down barriers between law enforcement and intelligence-gathering agencies and provided new tools to track terrorists. "Terrorists are using every advantage of the 21st-century technology, and we've got to make sure our law enforcement has got the tools to fight off that advantage," Bush said.
The American Civil Liberties Union, leading the fight against the act, says some provisions violate the liberties of all citizens.
"The government can search your home and not even tell you (and) collect information about what you buy, your hotel visits and your medical history," the ACLU says on its Web site.
Copyright © 2005 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED !!!