This is truly frightening. The Red Pencil Diaries has reported, linking to a San Antonio Current article, that much of the dreaded Patriot Act II has been stealthily reconstituted into the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal 2004, which was signed into law on the day that Saddam Hussein was captured.
"...it appeared that the Bush Administration was waiting for the start of the Iraq war to introduce Patriot Act II, and then exploit the crisis to ram it through Congress with little public debate.
The leak and ensuing public backlash frustrated the Bush administration's strategy, so Ashcroft and Co. disassembled Patriot Act II, then reassembled its parts into other legislation. By attaching the redefinition of "financial institution" to an Intelligence Authorization Act, the Bush Administration and its Congressional allies avoided public hearings and floor debates for the expansion of the Patriot Act. [David Martin, "With a whisper, not a bang: Bush signs parts of Patriot Act II into law — stealthily", San Antonio Current (Dec. 24, 2003)]
This is so outrageous that I've tried to confirm it from other sources.
Here is a press release from Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) mentioning that he voted against the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal 2004, H.R. 2417. His main reason: "However, under this provision the FBI no longer needs a court order to serve a subpoena on a new and lengthy list of ‘financial institutions.’ With this legislation we eliminate the judicial oversight that was built into our system for a reason - to make sure that our precious liberties are protected."
I then looked up the Bill in Thomas.
I have not had time to thoroughly dissect the Bill, but sections 361 and 374, buried in "Subtitle E - Other Matters" look pretty suspicious.