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Patriot renewal filibustered

The vote for cloture was 52 to 47, 8 votes short of the 60 needed to avert a threatened filibuster by Russ Feingold. At issue, of course, were certain provisions of the Patriot Act that are slated to expire if not explicitly renewed by year's end.

Lots of people will have opinions as to whether this is good or bad, but how many of them have even bothered to become familiar with the actual provisions at issue and what they mean? Not many, I'd bet, on either side.

I'll list them here because I think it's important to know what's at stake. I see the provisions overall as sort of a mixed bag, as I think most mainstream people would. There is baby here as well as bathwater.

So the next logical step would seem to me to fine-tune the package, so that it can better assist our law enforcement and prevention efforts without exacting too burdensome a toll on civil liberties. Some provisions could be retained, others tossed out. Some weakened, others augmented.

Unfortunately, that option doesn't seem to be on the table. It's up-or-down on the whole package, and then get out of town for Christmas vacation as fast as possible, baby!

Welcome to Washington.

But before the conservative hankies and liberal champagne bottles come out, just take a moment to look at exactly what's at stake. Conservatives, do you really think we need all these provisions to fight the GWOT? Liberals, do you really feel comfortable shit-canning all of these?

Section 201: Gives federal officials the authority to intercept wire, spoken and electronic communications relating to terrorism.

Section 202: Gives federal officials the authority to intercept wire, spoken and electronic communications relating to computer fraud and abuse offenses.

Subsection 203(b): Permits the sharing of grand jury information that involves foreign intelligence or counterintelligence with federal law enforcement, intelligence, protective, immigration, national defense or national security officials

Subsection 203(d): Gives foreign intelligence or counterintelligence officers the ability to share foreign intelligence information obtained as part of a criminal investigation with law enforcement.

Section 204: Makes clear that nothing in the law regarding pen registers -- an electronic device which records all numbers dialed from a particular phone line -- stops the government's ability to obtain foreign intelligence information.

Section 206: Allows federal officials to issue roving "John Doe" wiretaps for spy and anti-terrorism investigations.

Section 207: Increases the amount of time that federal officials may watch people they suspect are spies or terrorists.

Section 209: Permits the seizure of voicemail messages under a warrant.

Section 212: Permits Internet service providers and other electronic communication and remote computing service providers to hand over records and e-mails to federal officials in emergency situations.

Section 214: Allows use of a pen register or trap and trace devices -- a device that records the originating phone numbers of all incoming calls on a particular phone line -- in international terrorism or spy investigations.

Section 215: Authorizes federal officials to obtain "tangible items" like business records, including those from libraries and bookstores, for foreign intelligence and international terrorism investigations.

Section 217: Makes it lawful to intercept the wire or electronic communication of a computer hacker or intruder in certain circumstances.

Section 218: Allows federal officials to wiretap or watch suspects if foreign intelligence gathering is a "significant purpose" for seeking a Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act order. The pre-Patriot Act standard said officials could ask for the surveillance only if it was "the" sole or main purpose.

Section 220: Provides for nationwide service of search warrants for electronic evidence.

Section 223: Amends the federal criminal code to provide for administrative discipline of federal officers or employees who violate prohibitions against unauthorized disclosures of information gathered under this act.

Section 225: Amends FISA to prohibit lawsuits against people or companies that provide information to federal officials for a terrorism investigation.

Oh well, doesn't matter. It's time for Congress to adjourn. Gotta beat that Beltway traffic, after all.


Shit-can the whole thing.

It was an abomination to begin with; dumped on the Senate's lap at the last minute in a frenzy, passed without debate, without amendments, without any of the protections against bad law that a Legislature is supposed to apply.

It's not a Conservative-Liberal issue at all, as the vote in the Senate has shown.

It's plainly whether you believe Benjamin Franklin or not:

"Those who are willing to give up essential Liberty for a little temporary Safety will get neither Liberty, nor Safety."

First, virtually all of the provisions of the Patriot Act had been previously used against suspected drug dealers and suspected mobsters (American citizens) within the continental U.S. (things like roving wire taps, no-knock warrants, tracking emails and reading materials, etc) well before the Patriot Act came into existance.

It's the idiots who think "roving wire taps authorized by "secret courts" are NEW and part of the Patriot Act.


They've been used against suspected drug dealers and mobsters in RICO cases for years before the Patriot Act was ever conceived. The Patriot Act merely allows law enforcement to use the same techniques they've routinely used on suspected drug dealers on suspected terrorists.

That should be a no brainer - DO IT.

Now, no sane person can possibly have any problem with the most important and, yes, NEW part of the Patriot Act that allows our foreign Intelligence (the CIA) to "cooperate" (share information) with the FBI and local law enforcement.

Who could possibly have a problem with that?

OK, a terrorist sympathizer would, but who else?

None of things that some of the hysterics complain of (the rightful and necessary round-up of appx 4,000 illegal aliens who also happened to be Arabic and Muslim males in the wake of 9/11 was NOT due to the Patriot Act.

No special laws had to be written up to allow the feds to round-up illegal aliens and even to target specific groups of illegal aliens for special consideration, no new laws at all.

Though today, I heard a new one, some nitwit complaining about, "Why the feds need to be able to track American cell phone numbers at all."

OK, it's not his fault that he's ignorant on that topic, after all, he was just a newscaster, with no experience in law enforcement, so he may well be unaware that there are, at this moment, numerous terrorist cells within the U.S., with obvious access to U.S. cell phones, or that American cell phone numbers are very easy to get anywhere in the world, at a price. People who don't know such things, simply shouldn't be pontificating on the subject.

The fact is that we should've had the Patriot Act provisions passed fifteen years ago, right after Gulf War I. If that had been the case, terorrist sympathizers, like Sami Al Arian would've been convicted and jailed now and had the CIA shared its information on Mohammed Atta, with the FBI and local law enforcement before 9/11, those guys may well have been locked up well before 9/11/01 on unrelated charges.

Every single person I've encountered to date opposed to the Patriot Act (1) has never read the Patriot Act, (2) thinks that provisions of that Act have allowed for things it hasn't, like the Arabic & Muslim illegal alien round-up post-9/11 and (3) all swear it's been abused, but can't point to a single case of abuse.

Ironically, I CAN point to a single case of "abuse" or at least the "extending" of the Patriot Act beyond what it was intended for, but that case was knocked down by a state court, so it really doesn't count.

Aside from allowing the sharing of foreign intelligence with national (FBI) and local law enforcement (Municipal police departments), the Patriot Act largely does things like, (Section 225) Amending FISA to prohibit lawsuits against people or companies that provide information to federal officials for a terrorism investigation, and (Section 218) Allowing federal officials to wiretap or watch suspects if foreign intelligence gathering is a "significant purpose" for seeking a Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act order. The pre-Patriot Act standard said officials could ask for the surveillance only if it was "the" sole or main purpose.

Again, no sane person could possibly have a problem with any of those provisions.

Wow, welcome to Naive Nation!

When are you going to figure out that when people like Bush and Cheney, or Clinton, or any other power hungry human being might just decide that a "terrorist" is anybody they don't like, or political enemies.

You were just going on in another thread about how "free speech" is limited. Terrorists don't have free speech. Yet I have also heard Republicans say over and over that Democrats are with the Terrorists ... therefore aren't Democrats really terrorists too?

What about protesters? Aren't they terrorists? What about gunowners, aren't they terrorists too?

I'm glad you mentioned RICO, which is another abomination. Do you know how many people had their property illegally confiscated for alleged drug smuggling, etc ... Some of the cases are beyond absurd. In Texas, they seized $60 million in assets from a rancher because they found a bag of pot in one of his planes. He was about 70 years old. He couldn't even pay an attorney to defend him. Had it not been for the local media this church going old family man might have lost everything he ever worked for.

Did they prove it was his pot? Nope, didn't have to. It was in his plane.

Yep, just listening to you I can see how easy it was for Hitler to lead Germany into such a fine new era of low crime with his Christian party!

Once again, people who don't understand the Patriot Act should refrain from criticizing it.

It's usually best to understand what something is before we take an opinion on that thing.

The Patriot Act allows some tools that law enforcement already routinely uses on suspected drug dealers and suspected mobsters (roving wiretaps, no-knock warrants, tracing and tracking their cell phone calls, etc) on suspected terrorists.

That's a VERY GOOD thing.

It also allows our foreign intelligence to share information with domestic law enforcement.

Another VERY GOOD thing.

It also has numerous other provisions that, among other things, protect those who cooperate with federal investigations into suspected terrorism from Civil Action.

Provides for sanctions against federal employees from disemminating information ("unauthorized disclosures") gained via the Patriot Act.

Now, the RICO statutes HAVE been abused, but to date, not one person who opposes the Patriot Act (A) seems to fully understand it and (B) is equally unable to name a single case where it's been abused.

Barely, at least read the Patriot Act before you try to make a case either for or against it.

I love how all these self-styled libertarians are applauding government surveillance of American citizens with no accountability.

Like who?

"I love how all these self-styled libertarians are applauding government surveillance of American citizens with no accountability." (Jill)

For starters, the Patriot Act did not allow for such random surveillances, the NSA has been allowed to track any and all conversations, cell or hardwire, whenever certain targeted words (ie bomb, al Qaeda, infidels, etc) were used. In fact, the NSA had admittdly used that tactic and even wiretapped "suspected" terrorists under the previous administration, as well.

There's no way to argue that this shouldn't be the case. We have to have this tool against preventable terrorism.

It can be argued that there should be some form of third party, judicial review, which I'd support, but NOT the elimination of that very necessary tool.

Moreover, only the most naive people could remain hardcore Libertarians after 9/11/01.

Yes, I'm embarrassed that I was once one of those people who railed against the "Welfare/Warfare State," with my personal emphasis always having been on the utterly Unconstitutional "Welfare" portion of that apparatus, but I've become increasingly Conservative and less Libertarian post-9/11/01...on both counts.

I concede the need for some basic "safety net," or public assistance for those who need temporary help - with the quid pro quo that such people will devote themselves to job training, or re-training and forego the pleasure of bringing little ones into the world they cannot, at that point, afford to take care of.

For those who are unable to be retrained or remain employed for a long period of time (six years or more), I'd support some form of institutionalization for the chronically dependent.

But on the other side of the equation, I insist that only the most naive, or the most nefarious among us would, at this late date, deny that "EVERYTHING has changed post-9/11."

The security ("Warfare" - Military, Police, and Emergency Services) state is here to stay whether we like it, or not.

And this is because we are again, in a situation that only the most naive, or nefarious among us would deny - a world war against the forces of Islamo-cultism ("fundamentalist Islam") and the rogue states that have sponsored and supported it.

We NEED cooperation between the CIA and FBI, as well as local law enforcement. We can't afford not to trust that these agencies will use that information appropriately...too much is at stake not to have that trust.

There are naive people who excoriate the Patriot Act without ever having read it, nor being able to find a single case where its been abused, and then there are nefarious people, like those who wanted to make a political shit-storm over the current administration's completely appropriate decision to round-up all the illegal alien Arabic and Muslim males they could find post-9/11. There was nothing at all Unconstitutional about that, as illegal aliens enjoy NO Constitutional protections, just as "Illegal combatants" enjoy no protections extended by the Geneva Accords. Only a fervently anti-American person could find fault with the round-up of illegal alien Arabic & Muslim males. These kinds of people are the enemy within.

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