President Bush on Thursday called on Congress to reauthorize the 16 provisions of the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/01/14/25486.html ' target=_blank>USA Patriot Act that are slated to expire at the end of the year, calling them "practical, important and ... constitutional."
"Congress needs to renew them all and, this time, Congress needs to make the provisions permanent," Bush told an audience of about 150 officers at the Ohio State Highway Patrol Academy in Columbus.
Bush said the act, passed six weeks after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, "closed dangerous gaps in America's law enforcement and intelligence capabilities."
He said that authorities have used the act to bring terrorism charges against 400 people, with more than half of those charges leading to convictions, tells CNN News.
According to Reuters, Bush dismissed that view, and quoted a frequent administration critic, California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, as saying she had found no reported abuses.
"Remember that the next time you hear someone make an unfair criticism of this important good law. The Patriot Act has not diminished American liberties. The Patriot Act has helped defend &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2001/12/19/23961.html ' target=_blank>American liberties," Bush said.
Sen. Russell Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, accused Bush of presenting a "false choice" by focusing his speech on parts of the Patriot Act that are not controversial and glossing over areas where lawmakers say it could be improved.