Technology: It lets you tap phone lines, and it lets you sign the bill remotely that authorizes you to do so. Visiting France at the moment, President Obama used a machine that holds a pen and signed his actual name to approve an extension of the Patriot Act minutes before it was set to expire. The last-minute extension was largely the result of Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who held up the vote for days while demanding the law be tempered to protect individual privacy. The extension allows law enforcement to conduct roving wiretaps—taps on a person rather than a single device—and court-ordered searches of business records, and surveillance of non-American suspects without ties to terrorist groups. FBI Director Robert Mueller and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper sent letters to Congress warning of the threat to national security posed by allowing the Patriot powers to expire.
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