Surprise: House Did NOT Automatically Extend The Patriot Act

from the didn't-see-that-coming dept

If you read the press reports this afternoon, you would have assumed that the House voting to simply extend the various (controversial) provisions of the Patriot Act until last this year was pretty much a foregone conclusion. Among the reports we saw:

  • House is set to pass PATRIOT Act extension: “The House on Tuesday night was expected to pass a bill to renew for one year certain controversial sections of the USA PATRIOT Act that would otherwise expire this month.”
  • Patriot Act Extension: A Matter of Timing?: “The House will likely vote this evening to extend three key portions of the Patriot Act, the contentious antiterrorism law passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.”
  • House to pass Patriot Act extension: “The House is expected to approve a short-term extension of expiring parts of Patriot Act Tuesday night, forcing the Senate to tackle questions of how to deal with the counterterrorism surveillance law in the longer term.”

Turns out the conventional wisdom was wrong. The House could not conjure up enough votes to pass the extension. While a majority did vote for it, the rules required a 2/3 vote to pass and supporters of the extension fell 13 votes short — getting 277 in favor and 148 against. You can check out the roll call for the 148 Reps who didn’t just roll over.

Of course, this is hardly the end and it’s still widely expected that these provisions will get extended in one way or another. It appears that we don’t have any politicians interested in pointing out that these provisions go way beyond what is necessary and legal, so, of course, they’ll just get extended again at some point. Still, for a brief moment, it’s nice to see that not everyone in Congress would just role over and play dumb at hearing “Patriot Act.”

In case you were wondering about the three specific provisions, Wired has a good summary:

  • The “roving wiretap” provision allows the FBI to obtain wiretaps from a secret intelligence court, known as the FISA court, without identifying the target or what method of communication is to be tapped.
  • The “lone wolf” measure allows FISA court warrants for the electronic monitoring of a person for whatever reason — even without showing that the suspect is an agent of a foreign power or a terrorist. The government has said it has never invoked that provision, but the Obama administration said it wanted to retain the authority to do so.
  • The “business records” provision allows FISA court warrants for any type of record, from banking to library to medical, without the government having to declare that the information sought is connected to a terrorism or espionage investigation.

Contrary to the claims of fear-mongering politicians, none of these provisions are necessary at all. They’re all about being able to spy on Americans with little or no oversight. The fact that they were allowed at all in the first place was in part due to the fact that it was post 9/11 and there was a “sunset clause” that would have them go away. It’s time Congress let them go.

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Comments on “Surprise: House Did NOT Automatically Extend The Patriot Act”

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Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yeah I know about the sarcasm … any talk about privacy or freedom of speech seems to violate national security now-a-days.

“Then again, patriotism (or at least chauvinism) is often considered a bad thing.”

You do know that comment puts you on a watch list expect to get the full TSA massage treatment, including “the glove”, the next time you travel.

Not an electronic Rodent says:

Re: Re: Re:

Those who oppose the Patriot Act are true patriots

Well you see it’s right there in the name if you know how to look. 🙂

“Always dispose of the difficult bit in the title – it does less harm there than in the text”

“the law of inverse relevance Bernard; The less you intend to do about something the more you have to talk about it”

– Sir Humphrey Appleby (Yes Minister: Open Government)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

American patriotism is nothing but a propagandist control mechanism. They wheel it out every time they want you guys to get fired up about some bullshit they made up. It’s so blantant but you seem to love it. You’re surrounded on all sides. The Canadians are hovering, just waiting for you to look the other way! The Mexicans are literally stealing pieces of earth from Texas and putting it into Mexico! Don’t forget the Russians! Or new kids on the block China! Or N.Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Iran too! Not to mention every person in Europe is actively trying to destroy you, just because! Terrorists and pedophiles roaming the streets unchecked! Look there’s a commie/socialist/anything-will-do-as-long-as-we-make-them-different-somehow!! GET HIM!!!

Sorry, where was I? Oh yeah, all rise for the flag salute!

Jay says:

Re: Re:

Wait, wasn’t the CIA and NSA not even on the Wikileaks data?

Regarding the article, it’s incredibly difficult to find out which states have the best representatives that money didn’t buy.

I would call each and everyone of the 148 nay sayers for actually voting no.

And before this turns bi-partisan, I would like to note that Dems and Repubs are on BOTH sides of the argument.

I just hope they all vote for a nay again…

Anonymous Coward says:

Its pretty simple folks. You don’t just wake up one day in a fascist regime. Its a path that is taken over the course of time that starts with acts like this one. Those who believe that a citizen who is doing nothing wrong should be looked at by the government all day long with no complaints from citizen are not looking at it right. Its about being able to have the freedom to live your life without a parent watching your every move. Do you remember when you were a teenager and wanted nothing more than the autonomy to make your own decisions? Well, in a fascist regime you are back living in the parents home, living by their rules, with no choice about doing so. No freedom – at all. In a nutshell, its YOUR life and NO ONE should be telling you what to do so long as you are not harming others.

The problem with this law is that it enables the government to look at ANYONE without telling the courts who they are looking at. I have no problem with domestic spying – but there needs to be judicial oversight so that the cops are not out taking care of their personal agendas. Or their supervisor’s agendas. Judicial oversight is meant to curtail abuses of power. By allowing the FBI to get a warrant for a john doe, basically you are removing oversight. I am especially surprised that the courts allowed this. Judges are normally jealous of those treading on their turf.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“in a fascist regime you are back living in the parents home, living by their rules, with no choice about doing so.”

You ruin a generation of children by putting them in an LCD school system with no challenge, and LCD union workers running the show. Then you extend health care benefits till they are 35 under their parents health plans. Then you say oops, sorry, no loans and no housing for you!!!

That really sounds like where we are now.

Thanks I hadn’t thought of it that way before.

Anonymous Coward says:

A measure that I don’t think was up for renewal was the allowance for indefinite detention of even citizens based on suspicion of terrorist activities.

Then look at the White House, talking out of the other side of its mouth, telling Egypt not to do the essentially same thing:

Our government is flat out scaring the hell out of me.

jonvaljon says:

Re: they already have been working on it...

did you not see the FBI tried to blow up my good city of Portland on thanksgiving? guess who is now thinking of joining the joint terrorism task force again?

(hint, its portland)

look for the next big one to come 2012, all the end-timers are already going nuts anyways, and you coudlnt ask for better timing for a crisis. people thinking the world will end + highly charged election season = opportunity knocking.

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