Wired News has another article about the stealth passage of elements of the Patriot Act II.
My biggest concern with the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (P.L. 108-177) lies in s. 361 (a): "(a) ANNUAL EVALUATION OF PERFORMANCE AND RESPONSIVENESS OF INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY- Section 105 of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 403-5) is amended by striking subsection (d)."
Here's the text of 50 U.S.C. 403-5 (d), which has now been repealed:
"(d) Annual evaluation of performance and responsiveness of certain elements of intelligence community
(1) Not later each year than the date provided in section 415b of this title, the Director shall submit to the congressional intelligence committees the evaluation described in paragraph (3).
(2) The Director shall submit each year to the Committee on Foreign Intelligence of the National Security Council, and to the Committees on Armed Services and Appropriations of the Senate and House of Representatives, the evaluation described in paragraph (3).
(3) An evaluation described in this paragraph is an evaluation of the performance and responsiveness of the National Security Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency in meeting their respective national missions.
(4) The Director shall submit each evaluation under this subsection in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff."
So this Act combines giving intelligence agencies more investigative powers while reducing Congressional oversight of these powers. I do not think that this Act increases or lessens the Attorney General's requirements of reporting applications made under s. 215 of the USAPATRIOT ACT (50 U.S.C. 1861).
The real issue is not the actual changes in the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004. While I don't think that these changes are good, reasonable people might disagree about this issue. The greater concern is underhanded method by which this Act came into law. I do not think that any reasonable person could think that this was a good thing for a democracy. Although this law is on the books now, it is still worth fighting to make sure that the Bush Administration's devious tactics in passing this law become widely exposed and condemned. If these tactics severely backfire on them, maybe they will think twice before trying this again.