This seems like a positive development:
Congress edged closer yesterday to limiting some of the sweeping surveillance and search powers it granted to the federal government under the USA Patriot Act in 2001, including a provision that would allow judicial oversight of a central tool of the FBI’s counterterrorism efforts, according to Senate and House aides.
Under the terms of a tentative deal worked out by congressional staff members in recent weeks, a conference committee set to begin meeting today would probably adhere to the outlines of a Senate bill that sets new restrictions on the government, aides close to the negotiations said. The agreement would not include additional subpoena powers sought by the Justice Department and some Republicans, the aides said.
The House also approved by voice vote a nonbinding resolution that calls for a four-year extension of some Patriot Act provisions rather than the 10-year deadlines included in House legislation earlier this year. Overall, 16 provisions of the law are set to expire at the end of this year unless Congress renews them.
If these and other compromise measures are approved, it would mark another significant setback for the weakened Bush administration as it battles the GOP-controlled Congress over the limits of its powers related to terrorism and the Iraq war. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and other Bush officials have argued for months in favor of the more administration-friendly House version of the Patriot bill, but the Senate version appears to have more momentum.
The bill would also remove language regarding administrative wiretaps, I believe. The four year limits is a real victory, though. It made no sense to me that these needed to be ten year limits- we manage to hold national elections every four years. Congress can’t hold a vote on whether these provisions be continued every 4 years, as well? Are they that busy?
They need to repeal the whole damn thing and start over now that everyone has calmed down. I swear, if the libertarians had made more noise about this and less about taxes, they would have won me as a convert.
To the point of “another significant setback for the weakened Bush administration…”
According to the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll 57 percent of Americans believe Bush deliberately misled people to make the case for war. Which I suppose is the nice way of saying the majority here now thinks he lied us into this bloody disaster. And it also appears that only 39% now believe he is an effective leader in the so-called “War Against Terrorism,” which I assume includes the justified discontent over the wretched “Patriot Act.”
Outside of the sad fact that this is govt and a bad executive cannot be fired except under the most extraordinary circumstances (and therefore must be endured to the bitter end of his ruinous term in office), is there any plausible reason for George W. Bush and his handlers to remain in charge of this country’s affairs?
Paddy–Yep. The Constitution. Being unpopular doesn’t make you wrong. Bush is wrong for a whole other set of reasons. But the Constitution says he stays, and it’s done pretty well for us thus far.
yet another jeff
Paddy — No, no other reason. Like it matters…we’ve already gone over the cliff so there’s nothing we can do but just brace for the impact.
Shgetz: Like I said, this is govt and he can’t be fired.
Ok, we would have to change all of the stantionary.
Shygetz: Yeah, but all that kind of stuff will have to be thrown out after the place is fumigated anyway.
Anybody here actually read the PATRIOT Act and looked at the questionable provisions? I have. Four or five provisions out of an Act that reduces to about 200 pages in the paperback form raise potential constitutional law questions and civil liberties questions of mainstream concern. The remainder do not, and for the most part the vast majority of the Act constitutes a series of procedural fixes to long time problems plaguing immigration and counterterrorism enforcement initiatives. It’s laudable that Congress is going to restrict some of the clauses in question, but the hysteria surrounding the Act is becoming mind numbing, especially when it comes from people who have read a web account of a newspaper article quoting talking points based loosely on an ACLU fundraiser praising an ACLU legislative brief criticizing half dozen sections of the Act.
There are bills that are far more dangerous and threatening to civil liberties floating around Congress right now, some of which have a pretty good chance to pass on a bipartisan basis, but nobody gives a flying f%%% at a rolling donut about that, because 1) It’s more fun to bash Bush with the Orwellian named, Pat-Leahy-coined PATRIOT Act moniker; and 2) because paying attention to what Congress actually is doing would require reading a lot and hard thinking, much like understanding what is actually in the PATRIOT Act, and that would take far too much hard work. It’s much easier to trust some partisan who read something once by someone who heard someting, and to then just throw stones and sound off in an authoritative voice…
Ever heard of HR 4240? No, I didn’t think so. Everybody here should be up in arms over chunks of that one. Go look it up on Thomas. Unless of course it’s easier to just tee off on me for not knowing what I’m talking about, because I just contradicted what Oliver said in his gloss of Atrios’ discussion of Kos’ reading of Kevin Drum’s argument about that LA Times article based on that ACLU fundraising letter… In which case, fire away with the “informed” commentary.
So since you find some parts of the PATRIOT Act non-odious, we should shut up about the whole thing? Nope. Large parts of the PATRIOT Act are odious, and a huge blow to individual civil liberty.
Oh, and HR 4240–yes, that damn “Y2K Liability and Antitrust Reform Act” is killing America. Thanks to that, I cannot sue for hurt feelings if my computer malfunctions due to the Y2K bug. Help! Help! I’m being repressed!
Yeah, I’m pretty familiar with the PATRIOT Act as a whole, Al, but there’s nothing like a little condescencion to brighten up the room.
Of course there are plenty of non-controversial provisions. The point is that the President and his ilk are using the non-controversial provisions as cover to enact the controversial ones. Rather than saying “okay, we’ll discuss the portions that everyone is up in arms about,” they say the entire statute is necessary and needs to be extended.
“Repeal certain key sections of the PATRIOT ACT!” isn’t a very inspiring battle cry and I don’t blame anyone for not using it.
I predict an attack on our soil soon like the one in Amman. If they can, they will make another one similar to 9/11.
Sometimes hard choices must be made when national security is threatened. We love our liberties and are naturally afaid of Big Government, but times are bad and getting worse. GWB didn’t invent Al Qaeda. Bin Laden was around and trying to kill us during Clinton’s administration.
If you like the Patriot Act, you’ll love the rider that Lindsay Graham wants to attach to the next defense spending bill. Here’s the best part:
“(1) In General: Section 2241 of Title 28, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
“(e) No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to consider –
(1) An application for a writ of habeas corpus based on policies established by the Secretary of Defense under Section 1071 (a) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 filed by an alien who is detained by the Secretary of Defense, or
(2) any other action, challenging any aspect of the detention of an alien who is detained by the Secretary of Defense as an enemy combatant.”
(2) Effective Date: The amendment made by paragraph 1 shall apply to any application or other action pending on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.”
This proposed law nullifies SCOTUS decisions mandating real trials for prisoners who petition for them. Yes, the Bush Admin has been ignoring those SCOTUS decisions, but Graham’s bill nullifies the decisions altogether.
It’s worth mentioning, with respect to the detention of alien enemy combatants, that the Supreme Court has ruled the ONLY thing we owe them is a determination, through “minimal due process,” that they do, in fact, meet the definition of an enemy combatant. So Sen. Graham believes we shouldn’t even have to do that.
Could it be Congress finally has had time to read the Fourth Amendment? Shocking
Why screw with all this? Shoot the terrorists on sight. Geneva conventions apply. If in uniform: POW. If not: Spy. Bang.
If POW, no more interrogations. Name, rank and serial number. Put ’em in Kansas and let Sgt. Schultz and Col. Klink deal with them
Rest of Patriot Act is the usual government intrusion upon my rights to do something or another. No more or less worse thna the edict that regulates how many pints of water I can flush in my commode
Don Surber–Because then the government could shoot whomever they wanted just by shouting “Terrorist!” beforehand. It’s like the South Park episode–“It’s coming right for us!” BANG!
And if Graham’s amendment passes, I will personally kick any representative of mine that voted for it in the nuts (or in Dole’s case, in her husband’s nuts).
PATRIOT ACT: Read it, too dry. The plot dried up after the second chapter.
Now executive orders, thats where all the fun has been!
In particular, I’ve always been most fond of Executive Order 13303 that exempts any company dealing with any quantity of Iraqi Oil from any type of lawsuit, such as Human Rights violations.
So excuse me if I find your condescencion, Al, a bit tiresome and useless to the discussion. Any and all bad laws/orders/bills should be unearthed to the light of day through blogging and the currently useless press. Our legislators can no longer be counted on to do the right things.
Congress can’t hold a vote on whether these provisions be continued every 4 years, as well? Are they that busy?
Shit, man, 2 out of every 4 years in Congress are devoted exclusively to trying to drill in ANWR! The rest, of course, are devoted to campaigning.
Of course, if only the scurrilous Democrats would drop their objection to drilling, we could finally move forward. It’s all their fault, you see.
Seriously, the evidence is out now. The PATRIOT act has resulted in a 1000%+ increase in the amount of spying on civilians by federal agencies. I’m all for giving the feds some leeway and the proper tools in investigating possible terrorists. But there have to be safeguards for civil liberties, or this isn’t America. Law enforcement agencies have a less-than-spotless record when given free reign to spy on all of us. And the WH’s penchant for indefinite detention of American citizens (and others) under the guise of the WOT is unacceptable.
If it takes rolling back the PATRIOT act to daylight the evidence that certain provisions are necessary, then I’m all for it. So far all I’ve seen supporting the act is a lot of FUD. The WOT is not a free pass to conduct unlimited fishing expeditions or to lock people up without offering them due process.
No, they’ve been unimportant for the last 4 years when upholding their oath to the Consitution. Maybe they’re moving up to marginal.
Would it be that the Act is all about terrorists. It’s not. Most of the provisions can, and have, been applied to non-terrorism cases. As of 2004, over 400 people had been tried under PATRIOT Act provisions. Now, tell me how many of those were actually terrorists?
Yes, and America has never been threatened before terrorism. People have never clamored for increased police powers and reduced civil rights before. Oh, wait. They have.
“They that can give up essential liberty for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” — Benjamin Franklin
“Necessity is the plea of every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.” — William Pitt
“It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.” — James Madison
“Human beings will generally exercise power when they can get it, and they will exercise it most undoubtedly in popular governments under pretense of public safety.” — Daniel Webster
“Now those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth, and let me remind you they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyranny.” — Barry Goldwater
“Complete and accurate surveillance as a means of control is probably a practical impossibility. What is much more likely is a loss of privacy and constant inconvenience as the wrong people gain access to information, as one wastes time convincing the inquisitors that one is in fact innocent, or as one struggles to untangle the errors of the errant machine.” — Victor Ferkiss
Etc. etc. etc.
>>>>>>>>Oh, and HR 4240—yes, that damn “Y2K Liability and Antitrust Reform Act” is killing America. Thanks to that, I cannot sue for hurt feelings if my computer malfunctions due to the Y2K bug. Help! Help! I’m being repressed!
Shygetz, thanks for proving my point, jackass. The HR 4240 you mention is from the 105th Congress, in session in 1998. The HR 4240 I referenced above as currently pending is in the 109th Congress, the one currently in session. Bills die between sessions, the numbering system restarts every two years. Put down the mouse and keypad and back away slowly, before you hurt yourself. I wasn’t kidding about looking it up on Thomas, it’s why I didn’t say “google.” Google research gives you wrong results like the one you just got; it also gives you the mistaken impression that you know actually know something. And if you’re going to rely on secondary sources for the basis of your spouting off, it behooves you to ensure your sources are accurate.
Ahhh, you meant HR 4240 from THIS Congress. Why didn’t you say so. See, making incomplete references when trying to make an argument leads to people misunderstanding your argument. That’s why there are these neat things called hyperlinks, like this. Or you could name the bill so as to exclude all other possibilities. Or you could rely upon people’s ESP, as you have been doing. Your method seems to be a bit…ineffective.
As it stands, the amendment you reference is solely about illegal aliens. It increases the penalties for illegal aliens and illegal alien traffiking; it establishes a bureau to take care of immigration enforcement. The only troubling thing I see is the section allowing the US Military to patrol our borders. All in all, while I don’t agree with this amendment, it pales in comparison to the PATRIOT Act (which you also give zero informative commentary on, other than to say “*Bitch* Kos, *moan* LA Times, *wah* ACLU). Of course, it’s possible that I am missing something about HR 4240. Which is why one should usually comment with more than “Check this shit out.” If you have commentary on this amendment (while it is off topic), give it. Otherwise, you’re wasting bandwidth.
Thanks for the collection of great quotes–you beat me to the punch. I’m copying them for future ammo.