Thursday, December 22, 2005

Senate Passes 6-Month Patriot Act Extension

Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., center, along with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., left, and and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., meet reporters on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2005, to discuss the Patriot Act. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

This is from Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON - The terror-fighting USA Patriot Act may have a new lease on life.

The GOP-controlled Senate on Wednesday approved a six-month extension of the USA Patriot Act to keep the anti-terror law from expiring on Dec. 31.
President Bush gave it his grudging blessing.

The Republican-controlled House is now expected to come back and consider the legislation keeping the 16 provisions of the law passed after the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington from expiring.

Republican leaders and Bush wanted to make most of the law permanent, but were stymied by a filibuster in the Senate and had to resort to a six-month extension.

"This will allow more time to finally agree on a bill that protects our rights and freedoms while preserving important tools for fighting terrorism," said Sen. Feingold, D-Wis., who was the only senator to vote against the original Patriot Act in 2001.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan on Thursday accused Senate Democrats of trying to score political points and appease special interests, including the
American Civil Liberties Union, by blocking extension of the law. He said the temporary extension is a victory for the administration, even though it long said it would not approve anything but its permanent renewal.

"We kept Senate Democrats from killing the Patriot Act," McClellan said. "We're pleased that the existing Patriot Act is still in place."

"These vital tools will remain in place," he said, adding that the administration would continue to work to get the act reauthorized.

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 permanent the rest of the Patriot Act powers, like the roving wiretaps which allow investigators to listen in on any telephone and tap any computer they think a target might use, has been a priority of the Bush administration and Republican lawmakers.

House and Senate negotiators had agreed to compromise legislation that would have made most of the anti-terrorism law permanent and added additional safeguards to the law. But Senate Democrats and a small group of GOP senators blocked the legislation, arguing that the compromise needed more safeguards in it to protect Americans' civil liberties.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said he had no choice but to accept a six-month extension in the face of a successful filibuster and the Patriot Act's Dec. 31 expiration date. "I'm not going to let the Patriot Act die," Frist said.

Bush indicated that he would sign the extension. "The work of Congress on the Patriot Act is not finished," Bush said. "The act will expire next summer, but the terrorist threat to America will not expire on that schedule. I look forward to continuing to work with Congress to reauthorize the Patriot Act."

Now while the Patriot Act may have a six month extension, there is a little problem that both the Bush White House and the Senate Republicans seemed to have overlooked. It is the time frame for this extension of six months. This means that the Patriot Act will again come up before the Republican-controlled Congress in June of 2006--right in the middle of the midterm elections. Now the Republicans may think this is an advantage for them, since they can pull out the tired, old arguments of "we're stronger on national security and protecting America against the terrorists, over that of the surrendering-to-the-terrorist Democrats." However, the revelations of the Bush White House using the NSA to domestically spy on American citizens, without warrants, have brought the Patriot Act out as a campaign issue in terms of balancing the nation's security interests in fighting terrorism with the American citizen's Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful searches and seizures. A Republican strategy of trying to place the fear of a terrorist attack against Americans may just backfire within six months. Also remember, there will be plenty of trials taking place within the next six months that can also harm the Republican establishment--Scooter Libby, Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff. So this is not a victory or a defeat for either political party. It is a six-month continuation of the status quo. And come June, you will see an even greater bloody fight regarding this Patriot Act, where both sides would have no choice, but to take this debate to whatever conclusion occurs.


Tom said...

Did you see what they are doing in Great Britain? They are going to keep track of everyone's car movements and store the records for several years. Talk about civil liberties, if you are opposed to the patriot act you just may have a heart attack over this proposal.

Eric A Hopp said...

Tom: It doesn't suprise me that the British are keeping track of their citizens' car movements. Then again, the NSA could do the same thing with our cars. What do you think OnStar is? It is a combination cell phone / GPS locator in your car. General Motors touts it as a safety feature, if you're stuck out on a deserted road in the middle of nowhere. But how many people are going to be caught in that situation? Now, everyone has a cell phone, and cell phone companies are incorporating GPS locators in their phones. So Big Brother can track you, either in your car or by your cell phone. While I will admit that these features are useful and convenient, there is still a danger of the government tracking you without probable cause, or without a court order. I find that disturbing.

Anonymous said...

"Mark of the beast" is what they call it in Revelation. That's where they stick a ID on your forehead or forearm, and everyone must have one. Does'nt look like were very far away from that, I mean how long will they put up with the terorist's before they do the only thing they can do to stop them. Hold on let me find the exact verse and you tell me if it's a possibility.

Without the mark of the name of the Beast or the number of its name, it was impossible to buy or sell anything.(that takes away all outlets for the terrorists, if something terrible happened and people were given the chance to be safe would they take it?, look how fast the patriot act passed when the tower's where hit, imagine a city...)

third Angel followed, shouting, warning, "If anyone worships the Beast and its image and takes the mark on forehead or hand, that person will drink the wine of God's wrath, prepared unmixed in his chalice of anger, and suffer torment from fire and brimstone in the presence of Holy Angels, in the presence of the Lamb. Smoke from their torment will rise age after age. No respite for those who worship the Beast and its image, who take the mark of its name."(that's some hard-core stuff, rip off your head and piss down your neck)

I heard a shout of command from the Temple to the Seven Angels: "Begin! Pour out the seven bowls of God's wrath on earth!"

The first Angel stepped up and poured his bowl out on earth: Loathsome, stinking sores erupted on all who had taken the mark of the Beast and worshiped its image.
(nuke time; darn radiation, what's that smell? your burning flesh.)

I saw thrones. Those put in charge of judgment sat on the thrones. I also saw the souls of those beheaded because of their witness to Jesus and the Word of God, who refused to worship either the Beast or his image, refused to take his mark on forehead or hand--they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.(nice payoff though, who be-heads people these days? The republic of iraq?)

I'm not preaching, just using common sense. The natural course seems to take us down this road.

Eric A Hopp said...

So Anonymous, are you saying that the Bush White House will start branding those who are traitors, terrorists, insurgents, anti-war activists, Trotskysts, and other "enemies of the state?" Shall we start placing identification numbers on the forearms, and placing such enemies in relocation centers? Is that the natural course?

I seem to remember Germany going down this road in the 1930s and 40s.