Sunsetting PATRIOTism…or Just Giving Up?


The four GOP senators–Sununu (N.H.); Hagel (Neb.), Craig (Idaho); and Murkowski (Alaska)–who held up upper-chamber renewal of The Patriot Act are ready to sign on after getting "civil liberties protections…regarding the issuance of secret national security subpoenas and federal searches of library records," reports the Washington Times. The amendments to the bill have also brought Dem Sens. Durbin (Ill.) and Feinstein (Cal.) on board, effectively killing the Donkey Party filibuster of same.

"It is a substantial improvement," Mrs. Feinstein said of the new version. "I think it's important to get this done. And there is a four-year sunset, so we will be able to watch it closely."

Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, signaled optimism as well.

"I commend my Republican colleagues for working hard to make the Patriot Act better," he said after the agreement was announced. "Democrats strongly believe we must have all necessary tools to fight terrorism, but we want checks and balances to ensure that these expansive powers are not abused. The deal reached by my Republican colleagues appears to be a step in the right direction."

Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), the only senator to vote against the original Patriot Act, said the changes don't amount to much and that he'll still oppose the renewal (which will be rubber-stamped by the House of Representatives if and when it clears the Senate).

Whole account here.

Reason on Patriot Act Politics here and here.

Sununu Jr. (say that fast!) a better man (read: more libertarian) than his father here.

NEXT: The Foiled Al Qaeda Attack on LA Building...

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  1. “Democrats strongly believe we must have all necessary tools to fight terrorism, but we want checks and balances to ensure that these expansive powers are not abused.”

    I appreciate that sentiment, Mr. Reid–I believe in checks and balances too.

    …It’s just that, growin’ up, whenever I heard people talkin’ about checks and balances, I always thought they were talkin’ about you.

  2. Ken-

    The problem for Senators (of either party) who care about checks and balances is that this administration doesn’t really care about the legislative branch. Every time they want to do something scary they use a double-barreled defense:

    1) This action is endorsed under a particular interpretation of a blank check written by Congress at some point.

    2) Even if Congress were to rescind that blank check, the Executive has the inherent power to behave like the KGB under Article II.

  3. I understand and agree, thoreau. …if the dems had a majority in one house or the other, they could mount a little more loyal opposition.

    …but I still can’t shake the feelin’ that this police officer is tellin’ me that I should go call a cop.

  4. Ken-

    I agree, the Dems should be fighting a little harder. The Senate is designed as a body where the minority can thwart the majority.

    I’m watching a CSPAN rerun of Senate hearings on illegal spying. As we know, Attorney General Gonzales wasn’t under oath when testifying. I’m watching the debate over whether or not to swear him in, and I’m struck by a manner of speech that I’ve noticed conservatives use on numerous occasions: One of the Republican Senators, speaking in regard to why an oath to tell the truth is unnecessary, keeps referring to “this Attorney General” (emphasis mine). It seems like whenever conservatives talk about why checks and balances are unnecessary, or why bad behavior is OK, they refer to “this President”, “this administration”, “this cabinet member” (emphasis mine).

    It really seems like a cult of personality. They believe that we don’t need to fear power as long as that power is wielded by the right people.

    God save us from people who hold that notion while calling themselves “conservative”.

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