December 7, 2005 4:12 PM PST

Patriot Act may be renewed without reforms

A frenzy of last-minute negotiations over the Patriot Act, conducted behind closed doors as a Dec. 31 expiration date nears, has yielded a four-year renewal of the law and no substantial reforms.

Sen. Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who has been a point person during this year's debate over the fate of the complex and controversial law, said Wednesday that he and his counterparts in the House of Representatives have agreed to a deal that could pave the way for reauthorization of the Patriot Act by next week.

After reaching an impasse with House Republicans who held out for a longer seven-year renewal, Specter said he asked President Bush to intervene. "The vice president helped out a little yesterday and after a lot of haggling, I signed the conference report at 9:00 p.m.," Specter said in a statement sent to CNET News.com. "They brought it to my house."

But a band of six Democratic and Republican senators--who lodged strong objections to the draft conference report prepared last month--is likely to block a vote unless their concerns about privacy and overly broad surveillance are addressed. Sen. Russ Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat and member of the group, said through a spokesman on Wednesday that he had not reviewed the final text.

Patriot Act's e-surveillance

Only 16 sections of the massive law, enacted in October 2001, are set to expire on Dec. 31. Five deal with electronic surveillance and computer crime:

Sec. 202: Computer hacking is a "predicate offense" permitting police to seek certain types of wiretaps.

Sec. 203: Federal police can share information gleaned from a wiretap or Carnivore-like surveillance device with spy agencies. Previously, there was no explicit authorization for such data sharing.

Sec. 212: Internet providers and other communications providers can divulge information to police more readily. Specifically, customer records and other data may be legally handed over to police in an emergency.

Sec. 215: Secret court orders can be used to obtain records or "tangible items" from any person or business if the FBI claims a link to terrorism. The unlucky recipient of the secret order is gagged; disclosing its existence is punishable by a prison term.

Sec. 217: Computer service providers may eavesdrop on electronic trespassers legally. Police can be authorized to "listen in" on what's happening on the provider's network.

Of the 16 portions of the massive law that are set to expire, five deal with electronic surveillance and computer crime. Those permit secret court orders that the FBI can use to obtain business records; authorize more information sharing between Internet providers and police; and list computer hacking as an offense granting increased eavesdropping authority.

One important but unanswered question is how much support the group of six senators can muster among their colleagues. At a press conference last month, the group called for reforming portions of the Patriot Act that deal with library and other business record acquisitions, secret "National Security Letters" that have been used against Internet service providers, and delayed search warrants that permit police to secretly enter a home and notify the person weeks or months later.

Specter's office did not make the text of the final bill available. But according to interviews with staffers and lobbyists, not one of those three changes has been made.

Tim Edgar, a legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said Specter's announcement was "designed to put a lot of pressure on the Senate to go along with an extremely flawed conference report. We'll see if they bite."

The group of six includes Democrats Richard Durbin of Illinois and Kenneth Salazar of Colorado; and Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska; Larry Craig of Idaho; and John Sununu of New Hampshire. They backed a Patriot Act reform plan, called the Safe Act, that is still stuck in committee.

One person who likely will wield strong influence over whether Democratic senators side with the Bush administration or the group of six is Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, who spent Wednesday conferring with members of his party. "I'm anxiously awaiting an answer," Specter said. (Leahy's office said late in the day that no decision had been made.)

Bush has repeatedly called for a full renewal of the Patriot Act, regularly lacing speeches with phrases like: "Our law enforcement needs this vital legislation to protect our citizens." The White House is expected to increase the pressure on Republican senators not to defect to the group of six.

As a way to twist arms, House Republicans are expected to schedule a vote before Christmas, which would let them and the Bush administration characterize the Senate as obstructionist. A spokesman for the House Judiciary Committee said a floor vote had been anticipated for Thursday but has been delayed: "It won't be on the floor tomorrow. That was our hope earlier today, but it's not going to happen."

History of controversy
From the time a preliminary version was introduced in the Senate days after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Patriot Act has been dogged by controversy.

When the final vote was held the following month, members of Congress were required to vote on the bill without a lot of time to read it. The measure "has been debated in the most undemocratic way possible, and it is not worthy of this institution," Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., said at the time. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, added later: "Almost all significant legislation since 9/11 has been rushed through in a tone of urgency with reference to the tragedy."

Even though the Patriot Act was approved by overwhelming majorities in both chambers of Congress, some legislators voted for it with the understanding that key portions would be revisited in 2005. Early this year, the Senate and the House of Representatives began a series of hearings on the law.

CONTINUED: No court approval required…
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30 comments

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Patriot My A...
Calling this the "Patriot Act" is insane, but it sure puts the pressure on our Senators and Representatives. The act does nothing to protect me from terrorist attacks, will it severly impacts my civil rights. Secret search documents? Can't even consult a lawyer? Take my stuff and tell me later?

Any true patriot would object to this bill--the whole thing, not just the parts outlined in this article.

If we give up just one freedom, just one of our rights, no matter how insignificant, we have already lost the fight.

Congratulations to the Republicans bave enough to take a stand against this bill.
Posted by Pete Bardo (687 comments )
Reply Link Flag
HA
The way I look at it is if you're not doing anything wrong then dont worry about it.

Infact this bill has proved to work against terroism, so much that Tony Blair is trying to pass something like the patriot act after the subway bombings.
Posted by raross (6 comments )
Link Flag
A headline from the other side of this page.
"Tens of thousands mistakenly matched to terrorist watch lists."

Our best hope at this point is that the incompetency of our government will protect us from its actions.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
Congressional Cowards
The Patriot Act ( George Orwell would be proud!) is a free pass issued by Congress to the FBI and other "intelligence" agencies to carry out fishing expeditions against any American. No evidence of connection to terrorism is need to proceed, legal oversite is removed or greatly reduced. Virtually nothing in this collection of laws will prevent terrorism but rest assured political tampering and abuse will be irresistable. The original act was passed in a rush after 9/11 with virtually no debate or deliberation. While the present administration receives failing grades from the 9/11 Commission for it's efforts in reform for really safeguarding this country from terror it instead lobbies for essentially tearing up the Constitution.
Ben Franklin once said that those who would trade liberty for security deserve neither!
Posted by zanxxx (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The laws of perception!
It takes a very strong man or woman in politics to get past heavy handed innuendo and misinformation that is claimed to be fact that is stock in hand of the current Republican Party dirty political tricks lead by the redoubtable Karl Rove the shyster machiavellian dealer! No one in the current house of congress, has the fortitude to stand up to this bully's slick third party arms length attack tactics, based on little credible information sprayed out like "The Stark Report", printed by sucked in dumbed down tv & news reporters failing to verify sources, Bristish Sunday Tabloid Vacuous and Empty Style! The current congress is full of wimpish peoples representatives, who are scared, of their own shadows with many skeletons in the closets(payola/graft or other!). Oh well, the only thing missing from this scare tatic act is executive order 9066 and Tule Lake style detention centres to house, the new malcontents who believe in freedom and democracy, since most prisons are running at 15% overcapacity these days!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Reply Link Flag
some interesting statistics
"most prisons are running at 15% overcapacity these days!"
1. The US locks up a higher percentage of its citizens than any other country on earth.
2. "US drug policy is in a state of moral and humanitarian crisis, shaming us before history: Half a million nonviolent drug offenders clog our prisons and jails. Mandatory minimum sentences and inflexible sentencing guidelines condemn numerous low-level offenders to years or decades behind bars, often based solely on the word of compensated, confidential informants." (from the archives of DrCNet.) The Patriot Act is being used daily to prosecute these citizens.
3. Our government has created a legal juggernaut that destroys almost all those who are entrapped in its machinations.
We are in the path of a group of power hungry individuals that will stop at nothing to achieve their goals.
Since the advent of data processing, I hold little hope that the individual has the power to effectively protest without consequence.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
why innovate? they will steal anything you make....
I am trying to start a business... if this gets renewed I am leaving
Posted by (47 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's the peoples Government.
If you don't like what they are doing stand together and stop them. If they try to take a neighbor, stand in their way.

Our Government is only as strong as we (the people) allow it to be.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A government can be more powerful than we allow it to be...
... at which point, the general public is made
to suffer until they snap and overthrow the
government, or the country is invaded by someone
that's the lesser of two evils.

It's the former that gave birth to the USA, and
may ultimately be the one that sees it replaced.
Posted by Gleeplewinky (289 comments )
Link Flag
Preference Against Initiators of Force
There is no such thing as a "people's government". Governments are in the business of power, creating and maintaining it by legalized initiation of force - which those in charge have decreed is permissible. If you want to stop the harm done by governments you need to understand where the *real* power lies.

It is the enforcers of all the enormous number of government laws and regulations who are the real creators of harm. Without such enforcers - people willing to initiate force on others - and those who directly support them, the legislators in Congress (and their equivalent in every state, county and town in this country and others) are powerless. They could issue laws, decrees, edicts, etc. until the paper stood miles high, but without the enforcers no one would be harmed - unless crushed by the falling pile of paper.

My strong recommendation is to have no voluntary association with government enforcers and their direct supporters - employees of all policing agencies, taxing agencies, regulatory agencies. Deal with such people only when it cannot be avoided. Don't include them as friends and close associates and let it be known why you are doing so - enforcers of the state are its power and you do not agree or support the initiation of force at home or abroad. To do otherwise is to be in contradiction with one's stated goals. I (and husband Paul Wakfer) call this social preferencing (also known as discrimination) - a wise and useful practice both against and for association with individuals based on their actions and ideas. See "Social Preferencing - Evaluation and Choice of Association; A Method for Influence" <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://selfsip.org/focus/preferencing.html" target="_newWindow">http://selfsip.org/focus/preferencing.html</a>

**Kitty Antonik Wakfer

MoreLife for the rational - <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://morelife.org" target="_newWindow">http://morelife.org</a>
Reality based tools for more life in quantity and quality
Self-Sovereign Individual Project - <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://selfsip.org" target="_newWindow">http://selfsip.org</a>
Rational freedom by self-sovereignty &#38; social contracting
Posted by KittyAW (10 comments )
Link Flag
Stand in their way?
Remember Tianammen Square? Standing in the way of a tank is brave but foolhardy. Our freedoms are more at risk today than any time in our history since the American Revolution.
"No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." --Mark Twain (1866)
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
Can you say King George?
The Patriot Act was made up years ago but was shelved waiting for a terrorist attack when a Bush is President so they can be the ones to let us have it. They wouldn't let Clinton put it out there because he wasn't the war President the shadow government wanted. The act in itself will be the very thing that turns us into a third world country, and the Bush family will be in charge.
Posted by casper2004 (267 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Communist Act you mean
There is nothing patriotic about not questioning authority. We have spent trillions of dollars in a cold war against communism and now it appears that the KGB has changed their name. They are now known as The Republican Party.
Posted by oldAndGray (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
That's not fair...
... the KGB never liked the Nazis. Bush himself
has paraphrased a number of statements of nazi
leaders in his speeches. You wouldn't have seen
the KGB stoop that low.
Posted by Gleeplewinky (289 comments )
Link Flag
Patriot Act necessary to hide incompetence...
By many measures, we have today one of the most
corrupt and incompetent governments this country
has ever seen. Partisans would like to point the
finger at the otehr guy, but, honestly it's a
bipartisan phenomenon.

The GAO had issued a report a while back that
had pointed out that the current administration
has classified a much higher proportion of
documents than any that has preceded -- even in
a time of war, and that the majority of those
documents could not be reasonably assumed to
contain any information related to national
security. The conclusion was that the majority
of classified material was so designated simply
to avoid public scrutiny and accountability.

I've never really seen the mainstream press put
any focus on the rapid decline in government
accountability, renewed cronyism, mercantilism,
or even the emerging trend towards censorship of
public records and astroturfing (both foreign
and domestic) propganda is touched on now and
again but never made a big deal of. Even when
"independent news" reports written by
politicians to bolster their causes precipitate
a lawsuit, it's swept under the table in the
press almost as soon as it comes out.

I can only conclude that people don't care.
Perhaps where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to
be wise. Perhaps that's why we've elected the
gaggle of buffoons we have today. The best the
rest of us can hope for is that we earn enough
money that we can buy one before we become
desaparacidos.
Posted by Gleeplewinky (289 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Stalin or whoever it was, said so himself
We the voters don't elect anyone. It's the counters who do it. They just have voting day to make us believe we're actually doing something.
Posted by casper2004 (267 comments )
Link Flag
Defense of liberty
"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it always to be kept alive." -- Thomas Jefferson

It appears that our government has failed in the defense of liberty, and blurred it by talking about the "war on terrorism", a war which is akin to the war on drugs, no achievable goal, no time table, and no limits on the power of government. That leaves it to the people to defend our liberty and remind those in charge that the power lies and always has lain with us, the people.
Posted by agreddon (43 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Revolution? How?
I see many complaining about the loss of freedoms and the responsibility to defend it. I question whether force is a viable option for the defender in today's world. Since the advent of data processing, I believe it is much more difficult to challenge the powers that be. Our only hope is that technicians such as ourselves can pull the plug. Pandora's box...?
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
Talking point to scare your GOP Rep
"Do you really want to leave this much power to an Attorney
General appointed by Hillary Clinton?"
Posted by ben masel (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I wouldn't even want Hillary cleaning toilets
Hillary Clinton wants to have a law making it illegal to desecrate the american flag. Now, the way I look at it, is, if you bought the flag with your own money you should be allowed to do with it what you want on yor own property. If you're renting an apartment, forget about it, the land isn't yours.
Posted by casper2004 (267 comments )
Link Flag
Enforcers of Government are the Problem
The Patriot Act, like all the thousands of other piece of paper issued by legislators in US Congress and its counterparts in other countries (and also in states/provinces, counties, cities/towns, etc.), is just words until those who are willing to initiate force upon others do so. Without these enforcers (and those who directly support them) the paper these laws, edicts, regulations, etc. are written on are just that - paper. It is the enforcers who create the harm. These individuals are willing to take money to prevent/interfere with people engaging in voluntary acts that the parties have determined to be of mutual benefit (eg. purchase and use air transportation from a company selling and providing it, communicate with others who want to be communicated with, etc.).

Imagine large numbers of current government enforcers resigning their positions because significant numbers of others will not freely associate with them otherwise. The influencing power of discriminating against people whose actions are unacceptable is greater than most realize. See "Social Preferencing - Evaluation and Choice of Association; A Method for Influence" <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://selfsip.org/focus/preferencing.html" target="_newWindow">http://selfsip.org/focus/preferencing.html</a> It is only in today's society where tolerance is preached as a virtue that evil - initiation of force - is allowed to roam freely and be accepted as necessary, guised as social order: government.

See related post on this subject. <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://news.cbsi.com/5208-1028-0.html?forumID=1&#38;threadID=12140&#38;messageID=92780&#38;start=-180" target="_newWindow">http://news.cbsi.com/5208-1028-0.html?forumID=1&#38;threadID=12140&#38;messageID=92780&#38;start=-180</a>

**Kitty Antonik Wakfer

MoreLife for the rational - <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://morelife.org" target="_newWindow">http://morelife.org</a>
Reality based tools for more life in quantity and quality
Self-Sovereign Individual Project - <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://selfsip.org" target="_newWindow">http://selfsip.org</a>
Rational freedom by self-sovereignty &#38; social contracting
Posted by KittyAW (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's true
Bush's grandfather ran the New York branch of a bank run by the Nazi Thyssen interests. I say, Prescott Bush should be unearthed and sent to Guantanamo!
Posted by swift2--2008 (197 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The US did plenty of business with the Nazis
Check some of the providers for the Nazi war machine, and you will see names like Ford for tank motors, and IBM for the Hollerith punch cards used to sort Jewish victims of the death camps.
Here is a tidbit:
"We have sworn to you once,
But now we make our allegiance permanent.
Like currents in a torrent lost,
We all flow into you.
Even when we cannot understand you,
We will go with you.
One day we may comprehend,
How you can see our future.
Hearts like bronze shields,
We have placed around you,
And it seems to us, that only you can reveal God's world to us."

This poem ran in an in-house magazine published by Ford Motor Company's German subsidiary in April of 1940. Titled "Fuhrer," the poem appeared at a time when Ford maintained complete control of the German company and two of its top executives sat on the subsidiary's board.
The list goes on. Simply put, "Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely."
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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