Defeat for the proposed extension of the so called PATRIOT Act in the House Tuesday night made national headlines, yet the extension is set to pass by the end of the week anyway as it is brought back to the floor for another vote. But just in case anyone in Congress reaches the sudden epiphany that they are effectively voting on the Enabling Act, Big Sis Janet Napolitano has officially notified a congressional panel that the US faces the greatest possibility of a major terror attack since 9/11.
House Republicans wanted to extend three of the PATRIOT Act’s most draconian provisions by a further year. For anyone who values the Constitution and freedom per se, that was bad enough, yet Obama went one better, stunning many in the House by suggesting that the legislation be extended for another THREE years.
A prepared statement issued Tuesday afternoon stated that Obama “would strongly prefer enactment of reauthorizing legislation that would extend these authorities until December 2013.”
Republicans attempted to fast track the extension using an expedited procedure that allowed for just a 40 minute debate and no amendments. However, this failed to pass as under such rules a 2/3rds super majority is required.
Even so, the extension fell short by just 7 votes, making it extremely likely that the bill will pass when it is brought back the floor either today or tomorrow. Under standard rules, only a simple majority will be needed for the extension to pass.
The ACLU describes the three provisions that would be extended under the bill:
Section 215 of the Patriot Act authorizes the government to obtain “any tangible thing” relevant to a terrorism investigation, even if there is no showing that the “thing” pertains to suspected terrorists or terrorist activities. This provision is contrary to traditional notions of search and seizure, which require the government to show reasonable suspicion or probable cause before undertaking an investigation that infringes upon a person’s privacy. Congress must ensure that things collected with this power have a meaningful nexus to suspected terrorist activity or it should be allowed to expire.
Section 206 of the Patriot Act, also known as “roving John Doe wiretap” provision, permits the government to obtain intelligence surveillance orders that identify neither the person nor the facility to be tapped. This provision is contrary to traditional notions of search and seizure, which require government to state with particularity what it seeks to search or seize. Section 206 should be amended to mirror similar and longstanding criminal laws that permit roving wiretaps, but require the naming of a specific target. Otherwise, it should expire.
Section 6001 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, or the so-called “Lone Wolf” provision, permits secret intelligence surveillance of non-US persons who are not affiliated with a foreign organization. Such an authorization, granted only in secret courts is subject to abuse and threatens our longtime understandings of the limits of the government’s investigatory powers within the borders of the United States. This provision has never been used and should be allowed to expire outright.
In addition, Senate Democrats are set to fast track the companion legislation (S. 149) to the House bill, as they seek to bypass the committee process and push the bill straight to the floor.
Unless the likes of Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich can attract scores of their peers to change their votes and defect from the party agenda, then the passage of the legislation is assured.
Also noteworthy is the fact that several representatives who ran on a Tea Party platform actually voted FOR the extension to the PATRIOT Act yesterday.
Slate’s Dave Weigel notes that high profile Tea Partyers like Michele Bachmann, Kristi Noem, and Allen West all voted for the extension. “I break this out because there’ll be a temptation to say ‘the Tea Party and its isolationist elements beat the reauthorization,’ and that’s not quite it,” he writes.
In addition, Ryan Hecker, a Houston lawyer and tea-party organizer, told the Wall Street Journal he believes the act has helped curb terrorism and “the movement should remain agnostic.”
This once again highlights the fact that the Tea Party has been almost entirely co-opted by the establishment GOP. It is now a bloated unrecognizable shadow of the Libertarian grassroots movement that was founded on the need to expel such freedom destroying legislation for good.
Tea Party or no Tea Party, Republicans and Democrats alike are working in tandem to destroy what is left of the Constitution.
One reason bipartisan support for reauthorization has grown, according to the Journal, is the perceived threat of homegrown terrorism, seen in the absurd Times Square firecracker and underwear non-bombings last year. Both questionable non-events and other over hyped and completely manufactured threats have led directly to programs such as the “See Something, Say Something” campaign- a literal citizen spy operation overseen by the DHS.
It seems that Big Sis is on the march again, this time to ensure that the PATRIOT Act gets extended.
AFP reports that Janet Napolitano has directly told the congressional Security Committee that the United States is facing “heightened” threats of attacks from extremists. “And in some ways, the threat today may be at its most heightened state since the attacks nearly 10 years ago.” Napolitano is quoted as saying.
She noted that there is “an increased emphasis on recruiting Americans and Westerners to carry out small scale attacks.”
Booga booga, better re-authorize the power to let the federal government keep a track of exactly what library books everyday Americans are checking out. You wouldn’t want to be the elected representative who tips the scales to allow another 9/11 now would you?
We have previously documented how such terror threats have been routinely hyped purely for political purposes.
Never forget that the media and the government have been totally discredited over and over again by their complicity in issuing phony terror alertsdesigned to manipulate elections and frighten the public into slavish acquiescence.
Just as former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge admitted that DHS would issue fake terror alerts shortly before elections in a bid to influence the outcome during the Bush era, the Obama administration is mimicking the same tactic.