As Expected, House Agrees To Extend Patriot Act With No Discussion, No Oversight

from the civil-liberties? dept

We all knew last week, when the House failed to renew three controversial clauses in the Patriot Act that allow the government to spy on people with little oversight, that it was a temporary reprieve. Indeed, just a week later, with a slight procedural change, the same provision has been approved, and now it moves to the Senate, where there are three separate bills for extending these clauses (and none about getting rid of them, as was supposed to have happened by now). Only one of the three bills, put forth by Senator Patrick Leahy, includes additional oversight. The two others -- from Senator Chuck Grassley and Senator Dianne Feinstein -- do not include any oversight.

But, really, we should be asking why these provisions are being extended at all. The reason for allowing them in the original Patriot Act was that they were "needed" in the immediate aftermath of terrorist attacks. But they were put forth with clear sunset provisions, recognizing that those three provisions should not be the norm. Over the years, there has been tremendous evidence of abuse of the Patriot Act, well beyond its intended purposes, so at the very least, there should be much greater oversight. But, even worse, when these provisions were extended last year, the excuse for extending them was that there wasn't enough time to debate the provisions. So the one year extension was supposed to be for the purpose of debate. Yet no debate happened. Hell, no discussion happened. Instead, everyone waited, and when the deadline came, they just agreed to push the deadline out further (and Grassley's plan is to push it out forever).

Shouldn't we be asking why there's been no public discussion or debate on the need for these provisions? To date, the extent of the "discussion" has been to have various thinktanks make statements in support of these provisions that are either misleading or flat-out false. Don't the American people deserve better?

In the meantime, if you'd like to see if your elected representative voted in favor of the extension, you can see the roll call tally of all the votes. I'm happy to see my Rep. voted against it (after abstaining last round).


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Pixelation, Feb 14th, 2011 @ 7:06pm

    Quit whining

    You know Mike, they still haven't caught Bin laden yet. How can they possibly do it if they can't spy on us. My guess is you have him in your basement. Quit whining, hand him over, let them ship him off to Guantanamo and let's get back to our regularly scheduled program.

     

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  2.  
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    Tim K (profile), Feb 14th, 2011 @ 7:10pm

    More of the same

    My rep voted for it. I thought maybe as a new member of congress we wouldn't just get more of the same...I was wrong. More fake security and more abuse of power. Just wrote him a message expressing my disgust.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Christopher (profile), Feb 14th, 2011 @ 7:25pm

    These things are not really necessary, and it's time to realize that these Patriot Act things can and will be abused by the police if they dislike you for ANY reason whatsoever.

    I am not frightened of terrorists. They have been able to kill a grand total of 5K people in 100 years on American continental soil. That is less than 1/10th to 1/20th of the number killed EACH YEAR in car accidents alone.

    Just not something that the average person needs to worry about, nor would we have to worry about it if we would start getting tough on Saudi Arabia (where all the 9/11 terrorists were from) about the madrassas that are fronts for terrorist recruitment and extreme mullahs.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Feb 14th, 2011 @ 7:38pm

    Egypt was under emergency rule for what - thirty years?
    How long has Algeria been under emergency rule, or Tunisia?

    Are these people really that stupid?
    Or maybe they figure they wont be around in twenty years so what do they care - they are getting their cut of the pie

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Feb 14th, 2011 @ 7:46pm

    So isn't Masnick going to comment on today's round of ICE seizures? Or does he not care because none of his precious music piracy sites were effected?

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2011 @ 7:55pm

    The real problem here is that there really is a lack of alternatives. Nobody has put anything forward that is workable, meeting both the government's needs as well as the public rights. It's a hard balance no matter what.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2011 @ 8:18pm

    Move along. Nothing to see here.

    You seem surprised...?

    It created a whole industry of well-funded campaign contributors who make a living by spying on citizens. It's the new American way.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2011 @ 8:23pm

    Lack of alternatives? WTF? Try transparency and due process as an alternative. This is America, land of the unfree and home of the brave new world!

    It's funny to hear our government criticize Egypt for its emergency laws while we silently pass our own.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2011 @ 8:33pm

    In response to "the lack of alternatives" I offer that we must acknowledge that we should consider ourselves in total war against islamists. If we are in total war we should do what we did in WWII with the Germans and Japanese. Round the mullahs and their minions up and place them in holding camps until the thing is done.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2011 @ 9:19pm

    Re:

    Transparency and due process are still all in there. You have to understand that terrorists are people who intend to do the country (and the Western world) harm are doing by exploiting the very freedoms you hold dear. They will enter the country as "flight students" and then fly hijacked planes into buildings killing thousands.

    They will cross the border from Canada as tourists, with a trunk full of explosives.

    They will formulate dissent and collect money to finance those who appose the west all around the world.

    Their plan of attack is simple: they think Americans are idiots because you let almost anyone in the country, you give away green cards like pez, and the 1st amendment makes it almost impossible to try to track their subversive activities.

    When you wake up and understand that the very system you love is what is in fact being used to threaten you way of life... then perhaps you can wake up and understand why not everything can be perfect all the time.

    Terrorists don't deserve 1st and 4th amendment rights. They are enemy combatants, at war with the US.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Pixelation, Feb 14th, 2011 @ 9:29pm

    Re: Re:

    Dude, put down the crack pipe.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Jim Brokaw, Feb 14th, 2011 @ 9:38pm

    Re: Re: your comments

    You're absolutely right. Because the terrorists are using the system I love against me, the only logical path is to get rid of that system ourselves, preemptively. Thanks for making the logic of that all clear to me. I just can't decide if we should give it up a little at a time, or if it would be a better fight against the terrorists if we just gave up all our freedoms, all our rights, all at once... a sort of 'first strike' against the terrorists. After all, once we live in a society much like the terrorists want, possibly modeled after Taliban Afghanistan, or the 'Islamic Republic' of Iran, only without the religion, the will surely be defeated.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2011 @ 9:39pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    But it's my precious!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    freedumb, Feb 14th, 2011 @ 9:48pm

    Re: Re:

    We are not at war with terrorists, how long are you going to ride on that horse?

    For it is not with bombs, guns, troops and the rest of the military complex that you can change an idea. It is only through understanding, debate and acceptance that we can begin to try. Do not mistake this as anything other than a clash of ideals.

    In America we tend to only look out at the world, it is much more difficult to allow yourself to see the reflection we project. On one hand we send our military to other countries in the name of our freedom, to hurt their people. While on the other hand we give them money and support when we share a common enemy.

    We do not need to continue to allow our elected officials to subvert the framework of our country of our ideals and of our values. "Terrorists" can kill our bodies but what we can not allow is for them to attack our spirit. Allowing the patriot act to exist is a failure by our government. While there are likely millions of other failures we could debate for hours, this one is so easily fought. We have a voice and we need to use it. Sentiments of acceptance that this is just how it has to be are off base and have no place in man kind.

    If we accepted everything we were told to do, we would not exist today. We would still be under the rule of another. Great men stand up for what they believe in, greater men stand up even when they don't.

     

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  15.  
    icon
    velox (profile), Feb 14th, 2011 @ 9:58pm

    Re: Re:

    "terrorists are people who intend to do the country (and the Western world) harm are doing by exploiting the very freedoms you hold dear"
    ... [followed by a bunch of crap where you tell us we just have to give up freedom because otherwise
    they are gonna come kill us]
    To be blunt: Your argument is craven and cowardly.

    Freedom is worth taking a risk for.
    Why don't you stand and defend the right to have the freedom, rather than just surrender to fear

    If you don't think risk is unacceptable and freedom can't be weighed against it, then consider the decision you make to get in your car every day.
    A car is a freedom machine, but cars kill more people than terrorists.
    So why aren't you walking?

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    athe, Feb 14th, 2011 @ 9:58pm

    Re:

    Drop a nuke on them?

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    freedumb, Feb 14th, 2011 @ 10:01pm

    Re:

    It was wrong then and it is wrong now. Rounding up thousands of immigrants did not help our efforts in WWII. Killing millions of innocent civilians is what helped end the "war" with Japan. And no, that is not a solution.

    We need not to propose alternatives we merely need to oppose the governments idea of what they think they need to help us. They can start by ending wars where we leave families broken, cities destroyed and hope lost. They can end when we say so.

    It can be easy to accept life as it has been decried by the government but refusing to question their actions is what has helped guide this world into what we can see today. It is all of our faults for allowing this to happen. If you want to blame someone for terrorists, lets start here at home. It has been, in part, the inaction of our own people that must be blamed for this mess.

    While we control not what the government does and can do, the real point of the matter is we could.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2011 @ 10:56pm

    Re: Re:

    Looks like the terrorists already defeated you.

     

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  19.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Feb 14th, 2011 @ 11:02pm

    Re: More of the same

    Remember, the 7 that voted no the first time...

    They were told by the older members to vote yes for the majority.

     

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  20.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Feb 14th, 2011 @ 11:10pm

    Re:

    How can we when the majority just vote for the extensions regardless?

     

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  21.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Feb 14th, 2011 @ 11:19pm

    Re: Re:

    "You have to understand that terrorists are people who intend to do the country (and the Western world) harm are doing by exploiting the very freedoms you hold dear. They will enter the country as "flight students" and then fly hijacked planes into buildings killing thousands."

    I'll accept that risk.

    "They will cross the border from Canada as tourists, with a trunk full of explosives."

    "When you wake up and understand that the very system you love is what is in fact being used to threaten you way of life... then perhaps you can wake up and understand why not everything can be perfect all the time."

    I accept that I am not a perfect man, but I will not be controlled by my government in the name of national security. Perhaps it's time to wake up, look out the window and enjoy your freedom rather than allow a faceless government to take it away.

    Regan said we don't negotiate with terrorists. If we want to

    And just as before, the American people will stop them.

    "Their plan of attack is simple: they think Americans are idiots because you let almost anyone in the country, you give away green cards like pez, and the 1st amendment makes it almost impossible to try to track their subversive activities."

    And in the last few years, our government has done far worse to our own civil liberties...

    "Terrorists don't deserve 1st and 4th amendment rights. They are enemy combatants, at war with the US."

    People deserve the 1st and 4th amendments. A free society does not stoop down to the levels of their enemies. They prove through their own mettle, determination, and self worth that they are better.

    How do we prove we are better? We ignore the trolls that use terrorism to scare us into a lull. We fight for the freedoms our forefather institutionalized in our Constitution. We understand that we accept risk of possibly dying in inane ways other than terrorism, but we NEVER allow the idea of dying to a bomb threat from the middle east is far worse than knowing our own government wants to betray our Constitution to try to protect us as we don't need to be.

     

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  22.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Feb 14th, 2011 @ 11:22pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    ARGH! Came out wrong...

    ""They will cross the border from Canada as tourists, with a trunk full of explosives."

    And just as before, the American people will stop them.

    ""When you wake up and understand that the very system you love is what is in fact being used to threaten you way of life... then perhaps you can wake up and understand why not everything can be perfect all the time."

    I accept that I am not a perfect man, but I will not be controlled by my government in the name of national security. Perhaps it's time to wake up, look out the window and enjoy your freedom rather than allow a faceless government to take it away.

    Regan said we don't negotiate with terrorists. If we want to fight them when they come to our soil, we will. Until then, we remain at the ready to fight when we are needed.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2011 @ 12:37am

    Response to: Christopher on Feb 14th, 2011 @ 7:25pm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Feb 15th, 2011 @ 12:43am

    Re:

    Thanks for pointing that out! I'll find the link and you'll get your Mike-bashing circlejerk on in due course.

     

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  25.  
    icon
    Josef Anvil (profile), Feb 15th, 2011 @ 12:56am

    Terrorism is ALIVE and WELL !!!

    " ....allowing them in the original Patriot Act was that they were "needed" in the immediate aftermath of terrorist attacks"

    Mike, we are under constant terrorist assault. The reason that politicians won't vote against those provisions in the Patriot Act is because they are AFRAID it will end their political career. They will be branded as not trying to keep America safe. That is HUGE in politics. Forget everything else, it's all about keeping America safe from terrorists.

    The sheep need to WAKE UP. It's not the "terrorists" that are killing the most Americans, it's Americans. It's only mid-February and we have roughly 2000 murders in the US so far. Where is the public outrage?

    Oh wait, I get it now. We need those provisions in the Patriot Act because we ARE targeting the people that kill the most Americans. I just didn't realize we stopped calling them murderers or psychotics, we call them terrorists now. Well it all makes sense now. Good job.

     

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  26.  
    icon
    Daniel J. Lavigne (profile), Feb 15th, 2011 @ 4:22am

    "Peak Oil" provoked the need for the "Patriot Act"

    "Peak Oil" provoked the need for 9/11 and the "Patriot Act"

    Its that simple.

    Read the reasons "why" America will face ever more draconian legislation . . until it falls into a state of ABSOLUTE ANARCHY by December 2012.

    Think "oil" and why America can't exist as an Imperial "Give us what you have or else!" state.

    Then think about the rich and "why" they are so scared of the near future.

    HINT: The RICH know about "Peak Oil" and what that portends for the whole of Humanity.

    Sorry, folks, but its time to wake!

    To help you do so, I offer this:
    ****************************** 

    Maintain The Rage!
    Add your voice to reason's call.

    Join the Tax Refusal. 

    ******************************

    http://www.TaxRefusal.com
    ************************* *****
    And the related effort to wake the world:
    STOP YOUR ENGINES !

    http://www.StopYourEngines.com
    ******************************

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Justin, Feb 15th, 2011 @ 5:05am

    Here are are two link for taking action against the Patriot Act https://secure.eff.org/site/Advocacycmd=display&page=UserAction&id=463 and https://www.popvox.com/bills/us/112/hr514 . Got there, vote and spread the word.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    FM Hilton, Feb 15th, 2011 @ 5:17am

    The reason that it's not up for discussion by anyone other than think tanks and stupid elected officials?

    Because it's big business. That's the only reason why-and business couldn't be better, thank you!

    Think of all the products and services this one law produces and you will see the correlation-the dollar one.

    They're selling fear and it's a hit. Never mind about your civil liberties-there's a profit to be made!

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2011 @ 6:01am

    Re: Re:

    Bush is that you?

     

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  30.  
    icon
    John Gardner (profile), Feb 15th, 2011 @ 6:33am

    Re: Re:

    "They will enter the country as "flight students" and then fly hijacked planes into buildings killing thousands."
    - They did that one time, and as tragic as that event was, that many people die EACH MONTH from car accidents.

    "They will cross the border from Canada as tourists, with a trunk full of explosives."
    - And how many people have they killed that way? NONE

    When will you wake up and understand that the intent of the terrorists isn't to kill everyone (that's an impossible goal), but to watch our country go bankrupt trying to swat a mosquito off a hippo's ass; They want us to destroy the very fabric of this country in a feeble attempt to prevent a mosquito from biting us again.

    The terrorists are winning precisely because we're reacting exactly as they knew we would -- doing exactly what they knew we would, and they're laughing all the way to the bank.

     

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  31.  
    icon
    Shon Gale (profile), Feb 15th, 2011 @ 7:22am

    We need a revolution here! Now! How about a million old people marching, add to that a million Hispanics, add to that a million Blacks, and add to that the Tea Party and we have the beginning of a real revolution. None of our government listen to the peoples needs or wants. They just take and take and take our money and give it to every asshole dictatorship and other war-mongers while we sit around buried in our iBullshit and let them do it. Save 56 Billion in the budget now and stop paying other governments. Stop giving the Israelis $14,000 per person annually. I won't even get that much from Social Security if I get any.
    Maybe the Egyptians and the Yemens and the Iranians will wake us up to a new method of government. A method that allows us to vote on our laws instead of a bunch of assholes elected by other states. Congress doesn't work. The Senate is a joke. When was the last time either one did anything but complain. I HATE WHINERS!

     

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  32.  
    icon
    Chris Rhodes (profile), Feb 15th, 2011 @ 7:41am

    Milton Friedman Said it Best

    But, really, we should be asking why these provisions are being extended at all. The reason for allowing them in the original Patriot Act was that they were "needed" in the immediate aftermath of terrorist attacks.

    "Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program."

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Chosen Reject, Feb 15th, 2011 @ 9:47am

    How did this pass?

    Wait, the numbers aren't adding up. I must be missing something.

    From the last roll call:
    277 Yeas, 148 Nays, and 9 not voting.

    From this roll call:
    275 Yeas, 144 Nays, and 13 not voting.

    This roll call had 2 fewer yeas, 4 fewer nays, and 4 more not voting. My understanding was that the last vote was 13 votes shy. So how does getting fewer yeas make up the 13 vote gap?

    Something must be missing also, because in the last roll call, there were 210 Republican yeas, 26 nays, and 5 not voting for a total of 241 Republican votes, but in this roll call there were 210 yeas, 27 nays, and 3 not voting for a total of 240 Republican votes. Where did the other Republican go?

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Chosen Reject, Feb 15th, 2011 @ 9:52am

    Re: Re:

    Terrorists don't deserve 1st and 4th amendment rights.


    This might be true. However, everyone deserves those rights until they are convicted as a terrorist in a court of law after due process. Which means that suspected terrorists still deserve those rights.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 15th, 2011 @ 12:39pm

    Re: How did this pass?

    This roll call had 2 fewer yeas, 4 fewer nays, and 4 more not voting. My understanding was that the last vote was 13 votes shy. So how does getting fewer yeas make up the 13 vote gap?

    Between last week and this week, the House voted to change how this bill was being considered, which let them go to a simple majority, rather than a 2/3 vote.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    JustbecauseIcan, Feb 15th, 2011 @ 6:37pm

    Re: Re:

    "They will cross the border frmo Canada as tourists, with a trunk full of explosives." Seriously?? I mean, really. Seriously??? Do you, like, perhaps, have any facts to back this up? Last I checked, Green Card/Permanent Residency cards are not given away like 'pez,' and, are in fact, bloody hard to get. I agree that the system is bring used to threaten the American way of life, but I think that denying people their 1st and 4th Amendments because we think they might be terrorists is a bit McCarthyism to me. Orwellian. Oppressive. But sure, let's blame Canada, sending us their terrorists dressed as tourists, with a trunk of explosives. Blame the people that 'appose' the West. Blame everyone but the very system put into place, by the very people we have elected, to represent our perspective. Yeah, this blame thing is playing out REAL good.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2011 @ 9:01pm

    So... now what?

    So what process in place allows the people to do the job that their elected government refuses to do to serve the people that voted it in?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 16th, 2011 @ 3:50pm

    Re: Re:

    @freedumb-forleftisttools "It was wrong then and it is wrong now. Rounding up thousands of immigrants did not help our efforts in WWII."

    I got one freakin' question. Did we win WWII?

    The answer is yes. We took it seriously and got it done.

    Don't take my freedoms while you dabble in a "war-on-terror". Kill the other bastards before they kill you and keep doing it till they unequivocally surrender.

    It's for their own good. Sharia law for your mother and sisters is the alternative.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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