Six Senators Aim
To Kill Patriot Act
A bipartisan group of senators told congressional leaders yesterday that it will try to block reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act to protest the elimination of Senate-pushed protections against "unnecessary and intrusive government surveillance" in a House-Senate compromise.
"If further changes are not made, we will work to stop this bill from becoming law," GOP Sens. Larry E. Craig (Idaho), John E. Sununu (N.H.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Democratic Sens. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), Russell Feingold (Wis.) and Ken Salazar (Colo.) wrote to the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees.
This came a day after House-Senate negotiators reached a tentative compromise to make most provisions of the existing law permanent and set new seven-year sunsets for rules on wiretapping and obtaining business records under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) .
Congress is facing two deadlines: Lawmakers want to leave before the end of the week for Thanksgiving, and more than a dozen provisions of the Patriot Act expire at the end of the year if Congress does not renew them.
The Republican-controlled House hopes to approve the compromise today.
But Feingold, the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act in 2001, said the compromise's foes have several tactics they can use to stop the bill in the Senate.
EPA Agrees to New
Safeguards for Water
In a legal settlement with environmental groups, the Environmental Protection Agency agreed to adopt three rules aimed at curbing parasites and toxic chemicals in the nation's drinking water.
Benjamin H. Grumbles, the EPA's assistant administrator for office of water, said the rules, which call for more stringent testing and monitoring of drinking water for parasites such as giardia and cryptosporidium by August 2006, are "evidence of our commitment to making sure that the glass of water coming from your tap is cleaner and healthier."
The federal government was supposed to implement the new standards five years ago; environmentalists notified the EPA nearly 10 months ago they would sue the administration if they could not reach an agreement.
"Today's settlement requires EPA to strengthen health protections for the tap water that tens of millions of Americans drink and shower in every day," said Erik Olson, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Wilson Asks Post
To Probe Woodward
Joseph C. Wilson IV, the husband of outed CIA operative Valerie Plame, called for an inquiry by The Washington Post into the conduct of journalist Bob Woodward, who repeatedly criticized the leak investigation without disclosing his own involvement.
"It certainly gives the appearance of a conflict of interest. He was taking an advocacy position when he was a party to it," Wilson said.
Woodward testified under oath Monday to Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald that a senior Bush administration official casually told him in mid-June 2003 about Plame's CIA job. The testimony appeared to contradict Fitzgerald's assertion that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, then Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, was the first official to divulge information to reporters about Plame.
The Post declined to comment on Wilson's suggestion.
For the Record
* Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma doctor and Republican senator, lost a 51 to 47 vote to change the rules so that he could collect enough money to cover the cost of his medical practice. Ethics rules limit the outside compensation that senators can earn.
-- From Staff Reports
and News Services