By Albert N. Milliron
Republicans will tell you that the 2010 election was a referendum on Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats pushing unpopular bills through the House like a Freight train. The GOP complained that the Democrats passed bills with late night votes that has little debate and no provision for Amendments.
I know, the Patriot Act sounds so Patriotic. Let me help you out a bit, whatever a bill is titled, you can count on the opposite being true. Anyone remember the “Jobs” Bill?
This from the Hill
House Republicans are poised to pass an extension of the Patriot Act on Monday evening after a procedural snafu sent the measure down to defeat last week.
Republicans will meet at noon and begin debate at 2 p.m. on an extension of Patriot Act surveillance. A vote on the extension is expected Monday evening.
The measure was defeated last week when Republican leadership attempted to force it through on a fast-track procedure that required a two-thirds majority. Monday evening’s vote will require only a simply majority and is almost certain to pass.
What is in the Patriot Act extension bill?
One of the provisions up for renewal allows the government to place a roving wiretap on a suspect in order to follow him from phone to phone as he changes phones. Civil libertarians claim it is too broad, since authorities are not required to name the suspect prior to obtaining a warrant. But this section has been amended since it was first passed to require probable cause and robust safeguards. A second provision, known as the “library provision,” allows the FBI to apply for an order that would let it examine “tangible things” related to terrorism, such as suspects’ computers or their library, bookstore, medical, banking, tax or gun records without probable cause. A third provision, which has yet to be used, permits surveillance of “lone wolf” suspects who do not have ties to a recognized terror organization.
The ACLU (who we disagree with most of the time) describes the three provisions that would be extended under the bill:
* Section 215 of the Patriot Act authorizes the government to obtain “any tangible thing” relevant to a terrorism investigation, even if there is no showing that the “thing” pertains to suspected terrorists or terrorist activities. This provision is contrary to traditional notions of search and seizure, which require the government to show reasonable suspicion or probable cause before undertaking an investigation that infringes upon a person’s privacy. Congress must ensure that things collected with this power have a meaningful nexus to suspected terrorist activity or it should be allowed to expire.
* Section 206 of the Patriot Act, also known as “roving John Doe wiretap” provision, permits the government to obtain intelligence surveillance orders that identify neither the person nor the facility to be tapped. This provision is contrary to traditional notions of search and seizure, which require government to state with particularity what it seeks to search or seize. Section 206 should be amended to mirror similar and longstanding criminal laws that permit roving wiretaps, but require the naming of a specific target. Otherwise, it should expire.
* Section 6001 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, or the so-called “Lone Wolf” provision, permits secret intelligence surveillance of non-US persons who are not affiliated with a foreign organization. Such an authorization, granted only in secret courts is subject to abuse and threatens our longtime understandings of the limits of the government’s investigatory powers within the borders of the United States. This provision has never been used and should be allowed to expire outright.
Update via RT @jamiedupree: The House has approved a short term extension of 3 provisions of the Patriot Act; the vote was 275-144