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Patriot Act Renewal Shot Down in Senate


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WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate on Friday rejected attempts to reauthorize several provisions of the nation?s top anti-terror law as infringing too much on Americans? privacy, dealing a major defeat to President Bush and Republican leaders.

 

In a crucial vote early Friday, the bill?s Senate supporters were not able to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a threatened filibuster by Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Admin Craig, R-Idaho, and their allies. The final vote was 52-47.

 

Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and GOP congressional leaders had lobbied fiercely to make most of the 16 expiring Patriot Act provisions permanent, and add new safeguards and expiration dates to the two most controversial parts: roving wiretaps and secret warrants for books, records and other items from businesses, hospitals and organizations such as libraries.

 

Feingold, Craig and other critics said that wasn?t enough, and have called for the law to be extended in its present form so they can continue to try and add more civil liberties safeguards. But Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert have said they won?t accept a short-term extension of the law.

 

If a compromise is not reached, the 16 Patriot Act provisions expire on Dec. 31. Investigators will still be able to use those powers to complete any investigation that began before the expiration date, according to a provision in the original law.

 

?Our nation cannot afford to let these important counterterrorism tools lapse,? Gonzales said on Friday.

 

Frist changed his vote at the last moment after seeing the critics would win. He decided to vote with the prevailing side so he could call for a new vote at any time. He immediately objected to an offer of a short term extension from Democrats, saying the House won?t approve it and the president won?t sign it.

 

?We have more to fear from terrorism than we do from this Patriot Act,? Frist warned.

 

If the Patriot Act provisions expire, Republicans say they will place the blame on Democrats in next year?s midterm elections. ?In the war on terror, we cannot afford to be without these vital tools for a single moment,? White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. ?The time for Democrats to stop standing in the way has come.?

 

But the Patriot Act?s critics got a boost Friday from a New York Times report saying Bush authorized the National Security Agency to monitor the international phone calls and international e-mails of hundreds ? perhaps thousands ? of people inside the United States. Previously, the NSA typically limited its domestic surveillance to foreign embassies and missions and obtained court orders for such investigations.

 

?I don?t want to hear again from the attorney general or anyone on this floor that this government has shown it can be trusted to use the power we give it with restraint and care,? said Feingold, the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act in 2001.

 

?It is time to have some checks and balances in this country,? shouted Sen. Patrick Leahy, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. ?We are more American for doing that.?

 

Most of the Patriot Act ? which expanded the government?s surveillance and prosecutorial powers against suspected terrorists, their associates and financiers ? was made permanent when Congress overwhelmingly passed it after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington. Making the rest of it permanent was a priority for both the Bush administration and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill before Congress adjourns for the year.

 

The House on Wednesday passed a House-Senate compromise bill to renew the Act that supporters say added significant safeguards to the law. These supporters predict doom and gloom if the Patriot Act?s critics win and the provisions expire.

 

?This is a defining moment. There are no more compromises to be made, no more extensions of time. The bill is what it is,? said Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.

 

?Those that would give up essential liberties in pursuit (of) ... a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security,? said Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H. They suggested a short extension so negotiations could continue, but the Senate scrapped a Democratic-led effort to renew the USA Patriot Act for just three months before the vote began.

 

?Today, fair-minded senators stood firm in their commitment to the Constitution and rejected the White House?s call to pass a faulty law,? said Caroline Fredrickson, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union?s Washington legislative office. ?This was a victory for the privacy and liberty of all Americans.?

This came as welcome news to me this afternoon, especially after what I had feared was made public yesterday, that being the unauthorized spying by the Pentagon and NSA on domestic American anti-war groups. There is no excuse for the United States government to spy or infiltrate organizations in this country that are acting peacefully in protest against something. It's a direct violation of the First Amendment. The Patriot Act was quickly put together and passed about a week after 9/11, when just about any security measure would have been passed without anyone even looking at it. Few members of Congress actually read the entire Patriot Act before it was passed in Sept. 2001, which is pretty unacceptable in my opinion.

 

Nobody believed at the time that the government would take advantage of the powers extended to itself because of the Patriot Act, and most groups warning people of the possibility were either ignored or marginalized. But, just as I feared, this happened. Thankfully this has come to light, and now hopefully someone will take responsibility for this flagrant violation of American civil liberties.

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Guest Moneyball

If Bush authorized it how can it be unauthorized?

 

Where does this article mention that this "unauthorized" spying led them to catch a Ohio trucker that wanted to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge?

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If Bush authorized it how can it be unauthorized?

 

Where does this article mention that this "unauthorized" spying led them to catch a Ohio trucker that wanted to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge?

 

Alright, I see the new report that you are talking about. Even if it was in fact authorized, the President hasn't exactly been the best judge of intel, as we all know.

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Guest Moneyball

If Bush authorized it how can it be unauthorized?

 

Where does this article mention that this "unauthorized" spying led them to catch a Ohio trucker that wanted to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge?

 

Alright, I see the new report that you are talking about. Even if it was in fact authorized, the President hasn't exactly been the best judge of intel, as we all know.

 

Bush runs the CIA? Interesting. :thumbup

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If Bush authorized it how can it be unauthorized?

 

Where does this article mention that this "unauthorized" spying led them to catch a Ohio trucker that wanted to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge?

 

Alright, I see the new report that you are talking about. Even if it was in fact authorized, the President hasn't exactly been the best judge of intel, as we all know.

 

Bush runs the CIA? Interesting. :thumbup

He has authority over the CIA, and the entire American intelligence community. Just because George Tenet called the invasion of Iraq a "slam dunk" doesn't mean he had to listen to it alone.

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Guest Moneyball

If Bush authorized it how can it be unauthorized?

 

Where does this article mention that this "unauthorized" spying led them to catch a Ohio trucker that wanted to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge?

 

Alright, I see the new report that you are talking about. Even if it was in fact authorized, the President hasn't exactly been the best judge of intel, as we all know.

 

Bush runs the CIA? Interesting. :thumbup

He has authority over the CIA, and the entire American intelligence community. Just because George Tenet called the invasion of Iraq a "slam dunk" doesn't mean he had to listen to it alone.

 

If one of the heads of government, who supposedly knew what he was talking about, came to me and had that I would've done the same thing. I'm sure most of America (except for Democrats they know everything :rolleyes: ) would have done the same thing.

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If Bush authorized it how can it be unauthorized?

 

Where does this article mention that this "unauthorized" spying led them to catch a Ohio trucker that wanted to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge?

 

Alright, I see the new report that you are talking about. Even if it was in fact authorized, the President hasn't exactly been the best judge of intel, as we all know.

 

Bush runs the CIA? Interesting. :thumbup

He has authority over the CIA, and the entire American intelligence community. Just because George Tenet called the invasion of Iraq a "slam dunk" doesn't mean he had to listen to it alone.

 

If one of the heads of government, who supposedly knew what he was talking about, came to me and had that I would've done the same thing. I'm sure most of America (except for Democrats they know everything :rolleyes: ) would have done the same thing.

Unfortunately none of them realized how faulty and biased the information was that they were receiving. The majority of American knowledge of Iraq came through Ahmed Chalabi, the highest-profile Iraqi dissident. For whatever reason we trusted him, despite the fact that he hadn't lived in Iraq in years, and his only goal was to see Saddam taken out of power, no matter the cost. We paid him a fortune over the years to provide us with info, much of it slanted.

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Guest Moneyball

If Bush authorized it how can it be unauthorized?

 

Where does this article mention that this "unauthorized" spying led them to catch a Ohio trucker that wanted to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge?

 

Alright, I see the new report that you are talking about. Even if it was in fact authorized, the President hasn't exactly been the best judge of intel, as we all know.

 

Bush runs the CIA? Interesting. :thumbup

He has authority over the CIA, and the entire American intelligence community. Just because George Tenet called the invasion of Iraq a "slam dunk" doesn't mean he had to listen to it alone.

 

If one of the heads of government, who supposedly knew what he was talking about, came to me and had that I would've done the same thing. I'm sure most of America (except for Democrats they know everything :rolleyes: ) would have done the same thing.

Unfortunately none of them realized how faulty and biased the information was that they were receiving. The majority of American knowledge of Iraq came through Ahmed Chalabi, the highest-profile Iraqi dissident. For whatever reason we trusted him, despite the fact that he hadn't lived in Iraq in years, and his only goal was to see Saddam taken out of power, no matter the cost. We paid him a fortune over the years to provide us with info, much of it slanted.

 

Yes it's unfortunate, there's no debating that.

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My overall point is, we rushed into war. None of the claims of mushroom clouds appearing over NYC came true while we prepared our troops, after all.

 

We're starting to get off-topic here.

 

Yeah, god forbid that happen to your thread when you de-railed someone else's thread in the off-topic (not the left wing dumping ground) forum. :rolleyes:

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Wow, you gotta love the people who see the president's power as being broad and unlimited. Bush's power of authorization is not "anything Bush deems, so it shall be." There are executive checks and there are statutory limits to an executive agency. Im pretty sure the NSA is preculed from engaging in domestic spying.

 

Oh, and this is not some isolated democrat attack on the president as some might suggest. There are still Republicans who still value civil liberties:

 

NEW YORK - President Bush has personally authorized a secretive eavesdropping program in the United States more than three dozen times since October 2001, a senior intelligence official said Friday night.The disclosure follows angry demands by lawmakers earlier in the day for a congressional inquiry into whether the monitoring by the highly secretive National Security Agency violated civil liberties.

 

?There is no doubt that this is inappropriate,? declared Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He promised hearings early next year.

 

 

....

 

 

The surveillance, disclosed in Friday?s New York Times, is said to allow the agency to monitor international calls and e-mail messages of people inside the United States. But the paper said the agency would still seek warrants to snoop on purely domestic communications ? for example, Americans? calls between New York and California.

 

?I want to know precisely what they did,? said Specter. ?How NSA utilized their technical equipment, whose conversations they overheard, how many conversations they overheard, what they did with the material, what purported justification there was.?

 

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he wanted to know exactly what is going on before deciding whether an investigation is called for. ?Theoretically, I obviously wouldn?t like it,? he said of the program.

 

 

Some intelligence experts who believe in broad presidential power argued that Bush would have the authority to order searches without warrants under the Constitution.

 

In a case unrelated to NSA eavesdropping in this country, the administration has argued that the president has vast authority to order intelligence surveillance without warrants ?of foreign powers or their agents.?

 

 

Other intelligence veterans found difficulty with the program in light of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, passed after the intelligence community came under fire for spying on Americans. That law gives government ? with approval from a secretive U.S. court ? the authority to conduct covert wiretaps and surveillance of suspected terrorists and spies.

 

No comment from NSA

In a written statement, NSA spokesman Don Weber said the agency would not provide any information on the reported surveillance program. ?We do not discuss actual or alleged operational issues,? he said.

 

Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, former NSA general counsel, said it was troubling that such a change would have been made by executive order, even if it turns out to be within the law.

 

Parker, who has no direct knowledge of the program, said the effect could be corrosive. ?There are programs that do push the edge, and would be appropriate, but will be thrown out,? she said.

 

Prior to 9/11, the NSA typically limited its domestic surveillance activities to foreign embassies and missions ? and obtained court orders for such investigations. Much of its work was overseas, where thousands of people with suspected terrorist ties or other valuable intelligence may be monitored.

 

The report surfaced as the administration and its GOP allies on Capitol Hill were fighting to save provisions of the expiring USA Patriot Act that they believe are key tools in the fight against terrorism. An attempt to rescue the approach favored by the White House and Republicans failed on a procedural vote.

 

 

 

 

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10488458/page/2/

 

In my mind, this is an issue of the executive branch going well beyond it authorized powers.

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Here's the problem: if you're going to do checks on people checking out classic literature (like Catcher in the Rye) and other works (like Mein Kampf, which is checked out by more liberals than anyone else; that's an aside) then why have library systems with the books in them period?

 

Why ALLOW us that freedom if you think we're going to be crazy for checking them out? I have a REAL problem with this crap. Because A) it limits our freedom to check out these books period. B) the idiots in charge are going to judge me based on what I'm watching and reading.

 

I don't trust our government enough to evaluate my actions based on what I, or anyone else, checks out of the library.

 

As for the wire taps--that's complete and utter bulls***. Because if I'm on the phone with my friend and I'm talking about how much I "hate" this administration or I say something even slightly controversial as an off-hand, throwback comment (for instance the dysphemism: "Man, Bush needs to die!") it doesn't mean I want to actually kill the President or even that he actually needs to die. So now I'm going to get checked on for making one stupid comment which is my free speech right to bitch about the administration.

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