Democrats Cowed By Republicans On Patriot Act
Democrats are unable to add security protections to expiring provisions of the Patriot Act while Republicans paint them as soft on terror.
Lacking the necessary 60-vote supermajority, Democratic leaders settled on a one-year extension of expiring surveillance and seizure provisions of the USA Patriot Act.
They tossed aside curbs – and greater scrutiny – on government authority agreed to by the Senate Judiciary Committee in October after spirited debate.
Objections by Republicans superceded bipartisan agreement by the Senate Judiciary Committee on provisions that would have given more protections to Americans from government intrusion.
The three sections of the Patriot act that would stay in force:
-Authorize court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones.
-Allow court-approved seizure of records and property in anti-terrorism operations.
-Permit surveillance against a so-called lone wolf, a non-U.S. citizen engaged in terrorism who may not be part of a recognized terrorist group.
The Judiciary Committee bill would have restricted FBI information demands known as national security letters, and made it easier to challenge gag orders imposed on Americans whose records are seized with these letters.
Library records would have received extra protections. Congress would have closely scrutinized FBI use of the Patriot Act to prevent abuses. Dissemination of surveillance results would have been restricted, and after a time, unneeded records would have been destroyed.
Democrats didn’t want debate on the vote for fear of being accused of harming law enforcement. This is a sad commentary on Democrats’ lack of willingness to stand up for what they claim to believe, as they rolled over once again to a minority that cares more about power than about the Constitution.Click here for reuse options!
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