The AP is reporting (via yahoo) that Senate Democrats are actually trying to restore some of Americans' rights and freedoms that were lost when government panicked after 9-11.
In making standards tougher for the government in secret requests to a special foreign surveillance court, the bill would require that the records sought be relevant to an investigation. At a minimum, the records must be linked to a suspected agent of a foreign power.
The bill also would modify the current standard for a national security letter. It would require a statement of facts showing reasonable grounds to believe the information sought is relevant to an authorized investigation.
Democrats accused the Bush administration of using these letters to skirt the special foreign surveillance court. All three of the expiring sections require approval of the special court.
In my opinion the misnamed "PATRIOT" act should simply be repealed, but this is at least a tiny step in the right direction.