Thursday, May 26, 2011

Reid vs Rand on PATRIOT Act Amendments

I just saw Senator Reid make some really disappointing remarks about the Patriot Act and Senator Paul Rand. He uses the very same language that was used against Democrats just a few years ago and it's just sad. It's like we blinked and it's 2001 again.

Reid speaking on the floor of the Senate:

Rand's response:

It's no secret that I think Rand is a bit cooky, but I hope he stays firm on this issue. Reid's comments are completely ridiculous and don't hold up logically. Also, only parts of the PATRIOT Act would expire.
From Please Tread on Me:
Let's be clear: What is at stake here is not the PATRIOT Act in its entirety but amendments that would provide more checks on its powers -- and force the government to report on how useful and effective they are. The three expiring provisions are the never-used "lone wolf" provision, orders that give the government authority to seize private records, and the roving-wiretap provision. The lone-wolf provision allows the government to track foreigners it believes are planning terrorist activity, even if the targets lack established connections to terrorist groups. Section 215 lets the government obtain "any tangible thing" deemed relevant to a terrorism investigation, usually business records. Roving wiretaps allow investigators to monitor any avenues of communication, such as phone calls or e-mail addresses, it believes the target of a terrorism investigation is using, without even having to name the target in a warrant. Monday, eight Senators -- including three Republicans -- voted against cloture, and yesterday, 12 opposed Reid's effort to circumvent changes to the bill.

Over the past decade, Congress has had little trouble reauthorizing PATRIOT Act provisions regardless of which party controlled Congress or the White House. But over the past few months, the Republican Party's libertarian wing and liberal-to-moderate Western Democrats have joined forces to rein in the PATRIOT Act and provide more oversight over the use of its broad powers. "We've been working in cahoots on this since February," says a Senate aide.

On Monday, a bipartisan amendment introduced by Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky would have also required the government to conduct more audits of PATRIOT Act powers. Paul and Leahy's reforms also would have let the provision for national security letters, which allow the government to subpoena communications records without a warrant, expire in 2013, four years earlier than Reid's deal. They also would have made it easier for recipients of NSLs and 215 orders to challenge the gag orders that come along with them. Civil-libertarian advocates believe sunsets are crucial opportunities for revisiting laws they see as too broad. Democratic Sens. Mark Udall and Ron Wyden also proposed an amendment that would force the government to provide more information to Congress or the courts before it makes use of the expiring provisions.
Unfortunately for Rand, the Senate has voted 79-18 to end debate on the bill. I know I should be over the bitter disappointment I feel every time something like this happens, but I just can't help it. You can read Rand's amendments here if you're interested. Read what horrible provisions had to be squashed for yourself.

1 comment:

  1. The Patriot Act is complete rubbish. It's just one more example of big government the Neocons shoved down our throats under the guise of "making us safer".
    They put a pretty sounding name on it so anyone opposing it can appear UNpatriotic. It's a Bullshit tactic for a Bullshit law.


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