When the Patriot Act first passed, there were (quite reasonable) concerns from many folks in the civil liberties world, who were worried about aspects of the bill that seemed to go well beyond reason, in a hysterical knee-jerk reaction to the terrorist attacks of 2001. In order to mollify those concerned, Congress put in some "sunset" provisions, which would have certain aspects of the Patriot Act expire at a particular time. Last year, parts of the Patriot Act were set to expire, and many people hoped that it would open up some opportunities to better protect basic civil liberties. However, with it being an election year and no one wanting to look "soft" on terrorism, Congress had little discussion about the matter and simply decided to re-up the entire Patriot Act, saying they'd really (no, really) review the provisions this year. Amusingly, in a typical Congressional obfuscatory move, the extension of the Patriot Act was buried in the "Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act." Yeah.
So here we are in 2011, and where's the debate and the promised effort to sunset the worst aspects of the Patriot Act? After all, in the past year, there's been even more evidence that the feds have massively abused
their ability to get information on people without proper oversight. And while it hasn't been reported on at all in the press, Julian Sanchez's eagle eyes spotted the fact that Rep. Mike Rogers has introduced yet another one-year
, which basically just takes the text of last year's extension and moves everything out by one more year
. It's looking like this will easily get approved with little debate.
So, it's now appearing that those "sunsets" in the Patriot Act -- which should actually go into effect, given the tremendous evidence of abuse by the feds -- were a mere fiction, that Congress will just paper over each and every year.