Patriot Act

Why There's No Need to Renew the PATRIOT Act by Friday

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One of the most misleading claims in the PATRIOT Act debate is that if the law isn't reauthorized by Friday (when three of its most egregious provisions sunset), national security will be jeopardized. Majority Leader Harry Reid used this claim yesterday to justify cutting the debate time on the law: 

"I understand Senator Paul's exasperation because this is something that is extremely important to him and there was every desire from my perspective and I think this body to have a full, complete debate on the Patriot Act," Reid said on the Senate floor Tuesday night. "But the Senate doesn't always work that way. … We cannot let this Patriot Act expire. I have a personal responsibility to try to get this bill done as soon as possible…The time has come for me to take some action."

And here's The Hill's Tuesday story on reauthorizing PATRIOT: 

"The expiration of the law before the passage of an extension would create an upheaval in the law enforcement community, which relies on its authority to track suspected terrorists." 

Whether the provisions are reauthorized by midnight Friday is likely of little consequence to national security, as Julian Sanchez wrote in an excellent Cato paper on the topic

In the event that consensus has not been achieved when the new deadline arrives, there is little reason to believe their expiration would cause any near-term impediment to intelligence gathering: all three sunsetting provisions have been used fairly sparingly, and are, in any event, subject to a grandfather clause that would permit their continued use for investigations already underway.

It's possible that members of Congress doesn't realize this (several reauthorization supporters in the Senate have argued that allowing the provisions to lapse would be the worst thing to happen to America ever), but the lie has legs. 

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  1. It’s interesting how, with a Democrat in the White House, the progressive folk are suddenly in love with the “Patriot” Act. It wasn’t that way before.

    Oh, wait, the “wrong” party was in charge back then. So that’s how you determine if a law is Constitutional: it depends on whether your party owns the White House.

    1. Since it originally passed with 0 “no” votes in the Senate I think both parties have always been in love with it.

      1. But I well remember the outrage from the Kos Kiddies and their ilk. An outrage that seems to have evaporated.

        1. absolutely. So do I. “DOWN WITH FASCISM! BUSHITLER IS A DICTATOR!! WHERE ARE MY CONSTITUTIONAL LIBERTIES!?”

          Now, if you cite the Constitution, the Kos tell you to get a tinfoil hat…

      2. Pretty sure that Feingold voted no, but he was the only one.

    2. Harry Reid is ramming the act through Congress, over the objections of a Republican, so that Obama can sign it.

      Enjoy the sweet, sweet taste of ownership, Democrats.

  2. “all three sunsetting provisions have been used fairly sparingly”

    Indeed, the “lie has legs”.

  3. Senator Paul, are you against the provision in the PATRIOT Act that allow blacks to sit at the Woolworth’s lunch counters? Or will you let your libertarian ideology get in the way of practical ways of benefitting the negroes…I mean, blacks?

  4. Harry Reid always looks constipated.

  5. Reid is such a bullshit artist. He promised Rand Paul a full debate months in advance, and now he’s trying to act rushed, when he knew what the deadline was a long time ago. Total scum.

    1. LIBERTARIAN IDEOLOGUE!

    2. And if he really cared, not only could he have scheduled it, but he could do another shorter length extension instead of four years.

  6. It’s possible that members of Congress [don’t] realize this

    Of course, it’s much more likely they do realize it, and want to ram this thing over the goal line before the rubes get wise.

  7. “I understand Senator Paul’s exasperation because this is something that is extremely important to him and there was every desire from my perspective and I think this body to have a full, complete debate on the Patriot Act,” Reid said on the Senate floor Tuesday night. “But the Senate doesn’t always work that way. ? We cannot let this Patriot Act expire. I have a personal responsibility to try to get this bill done as soon as possible…The time has come for me to take some action.”

    The arrogance on display in this statement is beyond staggering.

    1. It’s not arrogance. Arrogance is a personal affliction.

      What this is is showing the supremacy of the state. For the state to maintain control, he must act.

    2. Something about this reminds me of one of the climactic scenes in Revenge of the Sith.

      1. So, this is how liberty dies? With the inability of the media to support the right side of the debate because the spokesperson for that side said that in a hypothetical situation, had he voted on the 1964 Civil Rights legislation, he would have had philosophical disagreements with the provisions dealing with discrimination in privately-owned businesses, but nevertheless, he would have vote “yea” anyway.

  8. I was thinking that if Reid doesn’t get this thing rammed through in time, you’ll be watching a televised force-choking by his dark lord.

  9. It’s a good thing the people of Nevada didn’t fall for the Jedi mind tricks of that right-wing nutjob running against Reid last fall.

  10. As much as I DESPISE Harry Reid, I will grant him ONE thing: he is CONSISTENT in his love of big government… at least when another Dem is in the White House.

  11. “Greatest deliberative body” in the world, indeed. Dear Nevadans: quit voting this bozo into office.

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