“Shhh! Shhh! It’s oh so quiet, Shh! Shhh!,” as Bjork would sing.
After a wave of news about attempted domestic terror attacks, Democrats facing a tough election year quietly voted this week to extend the Patriot Act legislation that many of them had decried under former President George W. Bush.
The House passed a one-year reauthorization of the Patriot Act Thursday night 315-97, just a day after the Senate moved the bill on a late-evening unanimous voice vote.
With the law facing a sunset date of Feb. 28, the Senate opted to vote for the extension of three crucial provisions of the act rather than opening debate on a revised bipartisan plan passed by the Judiciary Committee in October that would have imposed stricter privacy safeguards.
“In the end, it became non-controversial,” Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) told POLITICO. “[There was] the growing concern about increase on the pace of attacks on the homeland… and frankly, I think the Patriot [Act] got a bad name under the Bush Administration.”
As I noted the other day, the Dems need to keep the grievance-mongers at bay while putting on a mask of homeland security toughness.
Andy McCarthy gives a shout-out to the Republicans in Congress who have remained true and vigilant on the issue:
…kudos go not just to Pete King but to others, including Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who worked diligently to get Patriot re-authorized. Sen. Sessions put out this statement last night:
The PATRIOT Act is a bipartisan bill that has helped save countless lives by equipping our national security community with the tools it needs to keep America safe. Recent terror attacks, such as those at Ft. Hood and on Christmas Day, demonstrate just how severe of a threat we are facing. There is simply no reason to weaken the PATRIOT Act—and every reason not to. This extension keeps PATRIOT’s security measures in place and demonstrates that there is a growing recognition that these crucial provisions must be preserved. We are now one step closer to what is needed: a full, long-term reauthorization.
Sen. Sessions, it should be noted, tried along with Senators Kit Bond (R-MO) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to get Patriot reauthorized for four years. In the event, it was only reauthorized for one. Obviously, Democrats decided the timing was bad now, but they’ll be back yet again next year to try to gut the contested provisions.
That goes to show just how lunatic they are on security issues. To sensible people, there is absolutely nothing objectionable about the three Patriot powers in question. One is roving wiretaps, which criminal investigators have been using for years so that they don’t need to get a new court order every time a suspect changes phones. Another is the business records provision — the Left sometimes calls it the “library records” provision even though library records are not mentioned in it — which simply allows national-security agents to collect information on terrorist suspects almost (but not quite) as easily as criminal investigators can. And finally, there is the “lone wolf” law (not part of the original Patriot Act but now tied to it), which allows agents to go after someone as to whom the evidence that he is a terrorist is strong but the evidence that he is tied to a known terrorist organization is weak.
You may ask: Why should there be any time-limits on the operation of these laws? Wouldn’t we always want our agents to be able to do these things — a year from now, four years from now, or a hundred years from now? Good questions.
See also Ed Morrissey:
Republicans have mostly supported this bill because they believe it a necessary tool for counterintelligence and counterterrorism. Democrats mainly opposed it as a way to rally political opposition to Bush and the Republicans. Now that they’re in charge and responsible for preventing attacks, that Patriot Act looks pretty darned good to most of them.
Shhh! Shhh! It’s oh so quiet…