Skip to comments.Senate Rejects Extension of Patriot Act
Posted on 12/16/2005 2:34:00 PM PST by anonymoussierra
WASHINGTON - The Senate on Friday refused to reauthorize major portions of the USA Patriot Act after critics complained they infringed too much on Americans' privacy and liberty, dealing a huge defeat to the Bush administration 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 filibuster by Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and their allies. The final vote was 52-47.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Republicans congressional leaders had lobbied fiercely to make most of the expiring Patriot Act provisions permanent.
They also supported new safeguards and expiration dates to the act's two most controversial parts: authorization for roving wiretaps, which allow investigators to monitor multiple devices to keep a target from evading detection by switching phones or computers; and secret warrants for books, records and other items from businesses, hospitals and organizations such as libraries.
Feingold, Craig and other critics said those efforts weren'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, but the expirations have enormous exceptions. Investigators will still be able to use those powers to complete any investigation that began before the expiration date and to initiate new investigations of any alleged crime that began before Dec. 31, according to a provision in the original law. There are ongoing investigations of every known terrorist group, including al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Islamic Jihad and the Zarqawi group in Iraq, and all the Patriot Act tools could continue to be used in those investigations.
Five Republicans voted against the reauthorization: Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, John Sununu of New Hampshire, Craig and Frist. Two Democrats voted to extend the provisions: Sens. Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Ben Nelson of Nebraska.
Frist, R-Tenn., 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 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 (news, bio, voting record), 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 expiring portions of the Patriot Act that supporters say added significant safeguards to the law. Its Senate supporters say that compromise is the only thing that has a chance to pass Congress before 2006.
"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 (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz.
The bill's opponents say the original act was rushed into law, and Congress should take more time now to make sure the rights of innocent Americans are safeguarded before making the expiring provisions permanent.
"Those that would give up essential liberties in pursuit in a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security," said Sen. John Sununu (news, bio, voting record), 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."
I'm also curious, however, why the use of "cloture" is so contentious...I've heard many times that the Senate threatens and then defines "cloture" as nearly abominable but I don't understand why.
I realize that debate is necessary and closing it is poor judgement on many issues but at some point, Senators have a responsibility to move on and act.
I'm just curious what opinions are as to why the very mention of "cloture" is so ominous and threatening to some.
dictatorial police powers ? A bit extreme of a term , don't you think ?
ha, probably the ACLU.
Which is why they're leading the efforts to destroy national security.
How much "freedom" have you LOST since the Patriot Act was enacted?
Freedom isn't free. Some of us consider sacrifice to be necessary particularly where wars are concerned. Democrats don't want "freedom," they want anarchy.
We'll be real free when one of these bastards blows off a nuke in a major city . Then we can all brag how we didn't let the feds get to much power as we bury tens of thousands . The next one will make 9/11 look like picnic. Stupid country getting dumber all the time.
Dirty Rotten Enemy aiders and abettors.
I hope they all die painful and ignominious deaths...soon.
Maybe a terrorist cell will poison gas a meeting
of all these 'Rats....I can hope...can't I?
The Patriot Act does not require me to release *any* of my feedoms..Whereas the DimoRats, want us to surrender *all* our free will to the state. a burgeoning monolithic topheavy
soviet style state, that is boundf to collapse on top
of their pompous buffoning blathering heads from the weight of all their strangulating idiotic "laws" that they make for
"our own good".
I can only hope that the important parts of the "16 provisions" are put back into a NEW version of the Patriot Act (tearing down the wall b/t govt. agencies)...which "Leaky" promised would be "Bi-Partisan"...can't wait for that one (sarcasm)
We are playing right into the hands of those who would harm us most . They are VERY patient and knew damn well we'd drop our pants again and take our eyes off the ball eventually. We just did .I've all but given up on this ountry . We now have a senate that dosent have the balls to protect the American public.
Here's the unfortunate truth...the Republicans have made us LESS SAFE these past 2 days w/ their capitulating on Liberal policies...Yesterday it was Bush and Liberal Congressmen signing on to the McCain Anti-Torture/"Degrading" Bill, and today, they kill the Patriot Act...We need to remember this if and when we get attacked again...
No "IF's" about it in my mind. Just when ..We now have made it easier for 9/11 to happen again.Next one will be way more serious.
There are two mechanisms to get to the vote. One is unanimous consent. This is BY FAR the most common route.
Cloture is a substitute for unanimous consent. Cloture prevents a small minority of Senators from stifling the vote.
Nominally, the function of cloture is to insure that all voters in the body are adequately informed and have have adequate time to advocate their position before the vote is taken. It is an abuse of cloture to hold the body from voting, once the voter has formed a position and has had an opportunity to advocate it.
Which issue? The underlying matter, the conference report version of the Patriot Act, survives a failure of cloture. If cloture passed, it would limit debate to a maximum time certain and would hold the Patriot Act as the sole business of the Senate until it (the act) was voted on. But failure of cloture just means that debate can continue for an indefinite period.
There is no limit to the number of cloture motions that can be brought on a single bill.
There is a reason that Frist filed a Motion to Reconsider, but the reason wasn't "so that the issue could be brought up again later." That right exists regardless of the Motion to Reconsider (the cloture vote).
That you believe it is bad ;-)
You think it's a GOOD thing that intelligence agencies can't talk to each other?
They can, and should be able to.
My post hinted that it's bad to believe that the absence of the Gorelick Wall is tied to renewal of the Patriot Act.
I thought it was through the Patriot Act that the Wall was dismantled; was that handled separately?
The Gorelick Wall was an unnecessary limitation (it was more restrictive than existing law), erected by the DoJ. The DoJ was free to replace its rule with one that toed the line with the law, and at that point, information sharing is permissible.
Separate from that, but in a similar vein, the provisions of law that permit sharing have been duplicated in a section of law that does not sunset on 12/31/2005.
USA Patriot Act Sunset: Provisions That Expire on December 31, 2005
See, in particular, the discussion of section 218.
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