President Bush focused on the war on terrorism in a speech Monday in Pennsylvania,
an important state in his re-election campaign. Mr. Bush called on Congress to
renew the controversial law, the U.S.A. Patriot Act, which he said will help
America stay strong and resolute in the face of a continuing terrorist threat.
The president said the government needs certain tools to protect the American
people. High on his list is the U.S.A. Patriot Act.
It is a law passed by Congress in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist
attacks, which contains steps that make it easier for law enforcement and intelligence
agencies to share information. It also includes provisions that expand the
use of wiretaps and search warrants, and increase electronic surveillance of
Critics, including some members of the president's own political party, said
that the Patriot Act goes too far and threatens individual liberties. They
have said that they want to block or at least delay congressional action when
key parts of the law come up for renewal next year. Mr. Bush said that they
are wrong, and called the measure "essential law."
"We have got to be vigilant against terror at all costs," he said. "And there
is only one path to safety and that is the path of action. We must act with
the Patriot Act. We must continue to stay on the offensive."
Mr. Bush added that the entire law should be made permanent. He suggested
that Congress made some of the law's key provisions subject to renewal because
some lawmakers thought the terrorist threat would be short lived.
"The problem is that the war on terror continues and yet some senators and
congressmen not only want to let the provisions expire, they want to roll back
some of the permanent features," he said. "It doesn't make any sense. We can't
return to the days of false hope."
The remarks came in a speech to a convention of local government officials
in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The president is expected to deliver a similar message
Tuesday at an event in Buffalo, New York.