December 9, 2005
Good Triumphs Even As the Mask Slips
House and Senate negotiators have reached a compromise on making permanent most elements of the Patriot Act (actually, absurdly enough, the USA PATRIOT Act: Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism... how many sleepless nights did that take to concoct?) However, several "Republican" senators have let their masks slip ever so slightly....
Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., announced that the negotiating committee had reached an agreement that would extend for four years two of the Patriot Act's most controversial provisions - authorizing roving wiretaps and permitting secret warrants for books, records and other items from businesses, hospitals and organizations such as libraries. Those provisions would expire in four years unless Congress acted on them again.
"All factors considered it's reasonably good, not perfect, but it's acceptable," Specter said of the agreement.
Also to be extended for four years are standards for monitoring "lone wolf" terrorists who may be operating independent of a foreign agent or power. While not part of the Patriot Act, officials considered that along with the Patriot Act provisions.
The Republican-controlled House had been pushing for those provisions to stay in effect as long as a decade, but negotiators decided to go with the GOP-controlled Senate's suggestion.
But not every senator was happy with this deal. Russ Feingold (D-WI) -- "the only senator to vote against the original version of the Patriot Act" -- is incensed, unsurprisingly:
"I will do everything I can, including a filibuster, to stop this Patriot Act conference report, which does not include adequate safeguards to protect our constitutional freedoms," said Sen. Russ Feingold.
Alas, he is not alone... and half of those who have expressed an intent to vote against reauthoritzing the Patriot Act are Republicans.
Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada intends to vote against the measure as currently drafted, according to an aide.
Feingold and five other senators from both parties issued a statement that said, "We believe this conference report will not be able to get through the Senate." They said they wouldn't support it in any form.
The other senators are Republicans Larry Craig of Idaho, John Sununu of New Hampshire and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois and Ken Salazar of Colorado.
Ken Salazar we already knew about: he ran for election against Pete Coors as a moderate Democrat; but he has voted as a liberal ever since (though he isn't ready to charge off the "immediate withdrawal from Iraq" cliff, like some of his stampeding-buffalo party-mates). But Craig and Sununu have formerly been known as conservatives.
There is a certain kind of conservative, such as former Rep. Bob Barr, who slides so far towards libertarianism that he ceases to support even the concept of law enforcement... these "conservatives" see even so much as tapping the cellphone of a suspected al-Qaeda bombmaker as an unacceptable abrogation of our rights.
There is little we can do about those who have drifted into Cloud Cuckooland, so far to the right they warp around and meet Ted Kennedy on the other side. But Lisa Murkowski is still in her formative years as a first-term senator -- and she can still be saved.
I think the governor of her state should have a long talk with her; I understand they know each other pretty well.
In any event, now we know which Republicans can be relied upon in a pinch -- I think Sen. Specter did a pretty good job shepherding this through the conference committee -- and which simply cannot. The latter is a distressingly large group.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 9, 2005, at the time of 3:04 AM
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Tracked on December 9, 2005 10:15 AM
The following hissed in response by: Nylarthotep
Feingold? Where do I know that name?
Oh, that's right, the McCain-Feingold repression of political speech act. Now, where was his logic when he was thinking up that little bit of tyranny?
Well, at least he's closer to where he should be on this one.
Not that the act is a complete waste, but there are the civil liberties concerns that just don't seem to be sufficiently guarded from agencies that are given the allowances.
We can at least be thankful that the sunset clauses are for the most part intact. With luck, at the time of the reviews, these allowances will no longer be needed.
The above hissed in response by: Nylarthotep at December 9, 2005 3:53 AM
The following hissed in response by: cryinginthewilderness
Just asking, what is it about the CIA that shows they are able to use the information to prevent terrorism VS trying to bring down the President and his supporters?
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