Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is on the floor right now promising to vote against both Senator Rand Paul's amendments and full PATRIOT Act reauthorization, and he's quoting a speech Obama made on the Senate floor in 2006. The best parts of that speech are below:
[S]oon after the PATRIOT Act passed, a few years before I ever arrived in the Senate, I began hearing concerns from people of every background and political leaning that this law didn't just provide law enforcement the powers it needed to keep us safe, but powers it didn't need to invade our privacy without cause or suspicion.
Now, at times this issue has tended to degenerate into an "either-or" type of debate. Either we protect our people from terror or we protect our most cherished principles. But that is a false choice. It asks too little of us and assumes too little about America. Fortunately, last year, the Senate recognized that this was a false choice. We put patriotism before partisanship and engaged in a real, open, and substantive debate about how to fix the PATRIOT Act. And Republicans and Democrats came together to propose sensible improvements to the Act.
Unfortunately, the House was resistant to these changes, and that's why we're voting on the compromise before us. Let me be clear: this compromise is not as good as the Senate version of the bill, nor is it as good as the SAFE Act that I have cosponsored. I suspect the vast majority of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle feel the same way. But, it's still better than what the House originally proposed.
But the proponents of the SAFE Act, (Durbin and Obama in particular) weren't happy with what they passed, and said that in the future, the Senate would need to
take a careful look at President Bush's use of warrantless wiretaps and determine the right balance between protecting our security and safeguarding our civil liberties. This is a complex issue. But only by working together and avoiding election-year politicking will we be able to give our government the necessary tools to wage the war on terror without sacrificing the rule of law. So, I will be supporting the Patriot Act compromise. But I urge my colleagues to continue working on ways to improve the civil liberties protections in the Patriot Act after it is reauthorized.
As with the war in Afghanistan and the debt ceiling, President Obama has a much different opinion on the PATRIOT Act than did Senator Obama.