Senate Rejects Extension of Patriot Act

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Sean
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16 Dec 2005, 3:22 pm

yahoo news
Senate Rejects Extension of Patriot Act
By JESSE J. HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer
31 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - The Senate on Friday refused to reauthorize major portions of the USA Patriot Act after critics complained they infringed too much on Americans' privacy and liberty, dealing a huge defeat to the Bush administration and Republican leaders.

In a crucial vote early Friday, the bill's Senate supporters were not able to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster by Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and their allies. The final vote was 52-47.

President Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Republicans congressional leaders had lobbied fiercely to make most of the expiring Patriot Act provisions permanent.

They also supported new safeguards and expiration dates to the act's two most controversial parts: authorization for roving wiretaps, which allow investigators to monitor multiple devices to keep a target from evading detection by switching phones or computers; and secret warrants for books, records and other items from businesses, hospitals and organizations such as libraries.

Feingold, Craig and other critics said those efforts weren't enough, and have called for the law to be extended in its present form so they can continue to try and add more civil liberties safeguards. But Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert have said they won't accept a short-term extension of the law.

If a compromise is not reached, the 16 Patriot Act provisions expire on Dec. 31, but the expirations have enormous exceptions. Investigators will still be able to use those powers to complete any investigation that began before the expiration date and to initiate new investigations of any alleged crime that began before Dec. 31, according to a provision in the original law. There are ongoing investigations of every known terrorist group, including al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Islamic Jihad and the Zarqawi group in Iraq, and all the Patriot Act tools could continue to be used in those investigations.

Five Republicans voted against the reauthorization: Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, John Sununu of New Hampshire, Craig and Frist. Two Democrats voted to extend the provisions: Sens. Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

Frist, R-Tenn., changed his vote at the last moment after seeing the critics would win. He decided to vote with the prevailing side so he could call for a new vote at any time. He immediately objected to an offer of a short term extension from Democrats, saying the House won't approve it and the president won't sign it.

"We have more to fear from terrorism than we do from this Patriot Act," Frist warned.

If the Patriot Act provisions expire, Republicans say they will place the blame on Democrats in next year's midterm elections. "In the war on terror, we cannot afford to be without these vital tools for a single moment," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. "The time for Democrats to stop standing in the way has come."

But the Patriot Act's critics got a boost from a New York Times report saying Bush authorized the National Security Agency to monitor the international phone calls and international e-mails of hundreds — perhaps thousands — of people inside the United States. Previously, the NSA typically limited its domestic surveillance to foreign embassies and missions and obtained court orders for such investigations.

"I don't want to hear again from the attorney general or anyone on this floor that this government has shown it can be trusted to use the power we give it with restraint and care," said Feingold, the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act in 2001.

"It is time to have some checks and balances in this country," shouted Sen. Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record), ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. "We are more American for doing that."

Most of the Patriot Act — which expanded the government's surveillance and prosecutorial powers against suspected terrorists, their associates and financiers — was made permanent when Congress overwhelmingly passed it after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington. Making the rest of it permanent was a priority for both the Bush administration and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill before Congress adjourns for the year.

The House on Wednesday passed a House-Senate compromise bill to renew the expiring portions of the Patriot Act that supporters say added significant safeguards to the law. Its Senate supporters say that compromise is the only thing that has a chance to pass Congress before 2006.

"This is a defining moment. There are no more compromises to be made, no more extensions of time. The bill is what it is," said Sen. Jon Kyl (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz.

The bill's opponents say the original act was rushed into law, and Congress should take more time now to make sure the rights of innocent Americans are safeguarded before making the expiring provisions permanent.

"Those that would give up essential liberties in pursuit in a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security," said Sen. John Sununu (news, bio, voting record), R-N.H. They suggested a short extension so negotiations could continue, but the Senate scrapped a Democratic-led effort to renew the USA Patriot Act for just three months before the vote began.

"Today, fair-minded senators stood firm in their commitment to the Constitution and rejected the White House's call to pass a faulty law," said Caroline Fredrickson, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington legislative office. "This was a victory for the privacy and liberty of all Americans."



Sean
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16 Dec 2005, 3:24 pm

It's interesting but it's not a too big of a deal to me. It was more of a bad precdent than anything that actually had a negative impact on the lives of American Citizens.



Remnant
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16 Dec 2005, 4:16 pm

But we've got to have the Patriot Act! There are still legal pornographers out there who haven't had it used on them!



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16 Dec 2005, 4:33 pm

they dont need the Patriot act to catch those folks....



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16 Dec 2005, 5:03 pm

:D Yay!


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AbominableSnoCone
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16 Dec 2005, 6:24 pm

:jester: :jester: :jester: :jester: :jester: :jester:


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TheBladeRoden
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16 Dec 2005, 6:27 pm

The values! The values! The values! :o 8)


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Remnant
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16 Dec 2005, 8:57 pm

Ladysmokeater wrote:
they dont need the Patriot act to catch those folks....


No kidding? Tell that to Ashcroft and Gonzales.



anarkhos
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16 Dec 2005, 9:37 pm

That Frist quote takes the cake!

Someone put him in prison already. He's a crook, a kook, and a quack.



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18 Dec 2005, 12:27 pm

A permanent Patriot Act is a VERY bad idea. People are paranoid enough. They don't need an actual reason to be paranoid.

Yay for the Dems (and the Reps who voted it down).


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18 Dec 2005, 1:50 pm

Remnant wrote:
Ladysmokeater wrote:
they dont need the Patriot act to catch those folks....


No kidding? Tell that to Ashcroft and Gonzales.


Im talking about child prono freaks.....

Let me shair a story... A dude man, a paramedic accually, in West Pelzer, SC was charged by the state of SC for having that crap on his PC. The FBI was conducting a sting on someone else and gathered information on him in the process. They were not after the paramedic, but they passed that info on to SLED (SC's State Law Enforcement Division) and to DHEC ( Department of Health ans enviromental control) (DHEC issues your "ticket" to be a medical responder in SC). Dude man and one of his cronies at the Rescue Squad were arrested, charged etc. They also got their "ticket" evoked.... All this was BEFORE the Patriot Act.



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18 Dec 2005, 5:19 pm

This is great! :D



alex
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18 Dec 2005, 6:43 pm

Ladysmokeater wrote:
Remnant wrote:
Ladysmokeater wrote:
they dont need the Patriot act to catch those folks....


No kidding? Tell that to Ashcroft and Gonzales.


Im talking about child prono freaks.....


Yes, but the person you were responding to wasn't. He said legal pornographers.


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DivaD
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18 Dec 2005, 6:52 pm

arrghh! I just misread that as "Santa Rejects Extension of Patriot Act"! :roll:



anarkhos
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18 Dec 2005, 6:54 pm

Sophist wrote:
Yay for the Dems (and the Reps who voted it down).


Keeping in mind all but one of the "Dems" voted for it in the first place, without so much as any discussion.

The "Dems" are just as complicit in suppressing debate on the issue as anyone else.

The only reason so many "Dems" voted the other way this time is due to Bush's popularity nose-dive. It's political. Even now, it's not like all the "Dems" were against it.

There are no principles involved here other than reelection and political capital.



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18 Dec 2005, 9:17 pm

They keep sweeping issues under the rug. One of these issues is about the trustworthiness of information that is collected clandestinely. A judge might take the whole thing as gospel truth. One thing I learned the hard way is that things that you would think would be legit, like your spychiatrist's notes, are totally inaccurate and untrustworthy. If you mention to your spychiatrist that you drank mescal, a popular blended liquor from Mexico, which is totally legal, he might write down "mescaline", an illegal hallucinogen. What does that do to your future? You have a secret dossier that not only contains information that is no one else's business because of your right to privacy, but also contains damning information that you don't know about that is inaccurate, perhaps maliciously so? You have no way of knowing why you can't get certain jobs. You're not allowed to correct that information if you find out about it, and they wave you away saying "it's not important."

There are good reasons why government should not be allowed to keep secret dossiers on its citizens. One of those is so that a police state environment cannot be practiced in secret. These "secret" dossiers are available to many people at many levels of government. They are useful for someone like a city alderman or a county commissioner to find ways to disable a troublemaker and pretend that it was a pure coincidence that a police officer found a back of marijuana or an entire box of the stuff on the property of their target, that the targeted person didn't know he had. If you see people doing stuff and you don't know where the idea came from, that's the kind of place that it came from. I think that they also preserve certain kinds of troublemakers until such time as the ability to blackmail them or discredit them becomes useful. Imagine if someone decided to unearth corruption in a small town in USA and was on the verge of breaking it to the media and getting a grand jury interested. Maybe it's not even the troublemaker himself. Maybe their secret dossier has some dirt on a son, like Jocelyn Elder's son. They can use the son against the mother, and everyone knows the son has a record and has always been in trouble anyway, but they can force the mother to give up her program so that they won't do something to the son.

Yes, the Patriot Act is by God a big deal.