Rep. King: Zazi investigation proves Patriot Act's worthBy Tony Romm
The Hill's Blog Briefing Room
September 30, 2009
The recent indictment of a suspected New York City terrorist proves lawmakers must renew the Patriot Act, one lawmaker said Monday.
The FBI arrested Najibullah Zazi this month after investigators collected sufficient evidence proving he was conspiring to create and use weapons of mass destruction on U.S. soil. But Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) explained Monday that Zazi's capture and indictment would not have been possible without the Patriot Act, the infamous 2001 anti-terrorism law that some lawmakers have signaled they hope to scuttle this year.
"All the layers of defense President Bush set up after September 11 are working. The FBI is working more closely with local police, the Patriot Act, which allows roving wiretaps... is essential," King told Fox News. "We have to have this, it's absolutely essential."
Cheif among many lawmakers' complaints is that the Patriot Act undercuts privacy and threatens personal freedoms. But Republicans in particular have dismissed those criticisms, asserting the set of statutes has been indispensable in helping law enforcement agencies prevent future terrorist attacks.
As the Patriot Act slowly approaches its sunset date, the Obama administration has signaled its interest in preserving key aspects of law -- including its provisions on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the panel that grants federal officials the ability to conduct "roving wiretaps" on suspect terrorists. But Obama is likely to face staunch Democratic opposition to that effort, even as he promises his party members new Patriot Act provisions designed specifically to safeguard Americans' privacy rights.
While that legislative battle heats up, King on Monday reiterated the law in its original form was integral to the country's counter-terrorism strategy.
"That's why we need all these layers, all these tools," King said. "There's no silver bullet here."