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WASHINGTON – Congress is rushing to extend the life of three anti-terror tools, including the use of roving wiretaps, before they expire at midnight Thursday.
The Senate was set to start voting on the legislation, including possible amendments, Thursday morning. Final passage during the day would send it to the House for quick approval and then onward to President Barack Obama in Europe for his signature.
The rapid-fire action on key elements of the post-9/11 USA Patriot Act comes after several days of impasse in the Senate and results in part from the prodding of senior intelligence officials, who warned of the consequences of disrupting surveillance operations.
"Should the authority to use these critical tools expire, our nation's intelligence and law enforcement professionals will have less capability than they have today to detect terrorist plots," James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, wrote congressional leaders.