WASHINGTON – Congress is wrestling over whether to renew the Patriot Act’s bulk collection of phone records, but federal law enforcement officials are warning that legal authority for other valuable surveillance tools is also at risk.
That’s because the Patriot Act gives the FBI flexibility to intercept the calls of terror suspects who switch phones during an investigation. It also allows the agency to conduct surveillance on “lone wolf” individuals who pose threats but aren’t affiliated with international terrorism organizations.
But those provisions of the act expire June 1. Congress has so far not been able to agree on renewing the more controversial aspect of the law — the bulk collection and storage of Americans’ phone records.
The Senate is scheduled to return on Sunday to try to reach a last-minute agreement.