December 8, 2005 1:50 PM PST

Patriot Act renewal draws filibuster threat

WASHINGTON--A plan backed by the Bush administration to renew the Patriot Act with minimal changes has run into stiff opposition and filibuster threats in the U.S. Senate.

Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who led the Senate's negotiations when the original law was drafted in 2001, said Thursday that he would not support a four-year renewal unless it included substantial reforms. Sixteen portions of the massive law, including ones relating to electronic and Internet surveillance, expire on Dec. 31.

"This is too important to the American people to rush through a flawed bill to meet some deadline that we have the ability to extend," Leahy said. He and other Democrats, including Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and John Rockefeller of West Virginia, said in a letter Thursday that they would back a brief, three-month extension instead.

The last-minute Republican proposal for a four-year extension, reported by CNET on Wednesday, has drawn even more vocal opposition from a bipartisan group of six senators who have been pressing for privacy and civil liberties reforms.

In a joint statement on Thursday, they took aim at the so-called conference report (click for 600KB PDF) that Republican negotiators prepared behind closed doors. "By insisting that modest protections for civil liberties be excluded from the conference report, the conferees bear responsibility for any possibility that some provisions of the Patriot Act could expire this year," the group of six said.

Russ Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat who was the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act four years ago, said Thursday that "I will do everything I can, including a filibuster, to stop this Patriot Act conference report, which does not include adequate safeguards to protect our constitutional freedoms."

The group of six also 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, which is still stuck in committee.

The Bush administration responded by trying to ratchet up the pressure on senators to agree with the proposal for a lengthier renewal. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the Justice Department "strongly supports" the Republican-backed bill, adding, "I urge both houses of Congress to act promptly to pass this critical piece of legislation."

Sen. Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican who agreed to the conference report this week, said the Patriot Act renewal was not "perfect" but a "good bill" nevertheless.

"I don't see any reason to filibuster this bill...I think that when it's examined, then it will be accepted," Specter told reporters at a press conference in Washington. "We can have no bill at all, which is what would happen on Dec. 31 when it expires, or we can have a renewal of the existing bill, which has a problems, or we can take this bill that has a lot of improvements."

Minor changes
The final conference report does include minor changes to the vast and labyrinthine 2001 law, including an attempt to impose more regulations on police trying to obtain business, library, medical and other personal records through the so-called "library" provision, Section 215.

According to the text of the final conference report, authorities must now provide a court with a "statement of facts" showing "reasonable grounds to believe" that the records sought are relevant to an investigation of international terrorism or espionage.

But the senators in opposition argue that the relevance standard is far too broad and "would not prevent fishing expeditions," according to a document provided by Sununu's office.

Organizations that receive court orders requesting records would also be able to consult with a lawyer under the new bill. Under existing law, they are barred by a gag order from discussing the court order with anyone including an attorney--a policy intended to protect the secrecy of an investigation.


Join the conversation!
Add your comment
God Bless America
Posted by Lolo Gecko (131 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well, at least he is trying to do the right thing
Oh well, looks like he's trying to tell us all, that this act, is democratically unfriendly.
Undoubtedly, he is tired of juniors, perpetual scare mongering tatics, whose answer to any abuse, to any persons freedoms or legal rights, is we won't tell, even if you do ask!
For those that do ask the hard questions, we will impune your patriotism, whilst simultaneously using third parties, to swamp the press, using judith miller clone reporters alledging fiction as fact!
The big question is how long will he last, without the help of his fellow fraidy cat 'democrats'?
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Reply Link Flag
4 years to late
To bad congress did not look over the extremely dangerous, anti-freedom, and treasonous "Patriot" Act 4 years ago.

We might not be in such a mess right now and all the abuses of law abiding citizens would not have happened.

If you are willing to give up freedom for a false sense of security, you are a bloody coward.
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Agree with Bill Dautrive, BUT!!!
Please quote your last line from the original party who once said it... please! I absolutely cannot stand people who tout such excellent statements - and do not give "credit" where "credit" is *due*. Hint on that last line... it's a quote from? B.F.!
Posted by wortell (1 comment )
Link Flag
If you are willing to give up freedom for a false sense of security, you ar
I love it. I'll have to remember that one.
Posted by casper2004 (267 comments )
Link Flag
unconstitutional again?
I was watching the U.S. House today. A judge has ruled that part of the Patriot Act is
unconstitutional. What gets me is the United States Congress is trying to pass a law already declared unconstitutional. I thought that was illegal.
Posted by webworm95 (14 comments )
Link Flag
Hurrah for the filibuster
MY senate consists of ALL 100 Senators - not 55 R or 45 D (or wherever the 1 Ind votes).

I WANT the senotes decisionto be as close to 100-0 as possible.

If it takes 60 votes to overturn the filibuster - and they can't must 60 votes, it means that aside from 55 Republians, they could not sway - through force of argument - a measly 5 Democrats. Hell Joe Leiberman might as well be a Republican.

I'm an Independant voter & I am disgusted that 51-49 is supposed to be a victory. 51-49 means pretty much half the votes were against the argument.

If a proposition is clearly right - there should be 90%+ that can vote for it.

Long live the filibuster, in a Republican OR Democrat controlled Senate. Passing a measure by force of votes is NOT a victory - it is a failure to convince almost half the Senate that it is a GOOD measure.
Posted by (409 comments )
Reply Link Flag
90%+? A bit high, but....
Sometimes I think, any Congressional action that changes the status quo (at least if it places new restrictions on people) should have to pass by a 2/3 majority. That would stop a lot of the frivolous BS, not to mention the back-and-forth.
Posted by davearonson (35 comments )
Link Flag
King George and his band of gimmiee cohorts in congress (note the
lower case c} have to stop thinking of protections solely for
themselves. It is not America at large that is threatened. They are
afraid the terrorists will go after them personally. Sad to say, I
can't drum up sympathy for them. They have personally by their
actions brought this terrible situation on all of us. If a filibuster is
one of the last tools we have to impede this mess, so be it.
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I find it interesting how tempres can cool and beliefs can change in 4 short years. Its about time that someone in Washington finally woke up and saw what they had done when they created this "Patriot Act". The idea, the foundation and its actual purpose were and still are good. Unfortunately by playing on the sentiment of the country 4 years ago a little of 90 days, if that after 9/11, which was a complete embarresment to our country, this law was passed.
The fallout from this has gone from the ridiculous to the absurd. Not only are we circumventing the inherent rights provide by our own constitution but now we have even gone so far as to become gun shy of ourselves. Cigarrete Lighters are now banned yet matches are allowed on airplanes. Small Pocket knives are now criminal weapons. A bottle of butane is now a WMD. Has Hollywood really overstated the ramifications from this pice of legislation that is now law? I'm not saying that the whole bill should be thrown out, nor do I believe that Homeland Security is a vital importance to our nation. If a person is a suspected terrorist use due process to prove it. Use covert methods to prove it. There are methods available that are currently allowed by the Patriot Act for the discovery of potential terrorists. Not all are necessary. We have a double sided sword that we are playing with right here with this legislation. We must convince our representatives in Washington to do the right thing. DO NOT allow this bill to revert to pre-9/11 times but also DO NOT rubber stamp it for another 4 years. Instead come up with a compromise for a short term solution. REnew the bill in its current state for 4 - 6 months. During which time di what you lie to do and create a committee to study every line and each provision of this revised bill. Determine which is really necessary and which is fluff or extraneous. Reintroduce a leaner and meaner bill that is tough on terrorism and terrorists yet at the same time does not trash the inherent liberties give to us by our founding fathers. We can not expect the rest of the world to follow in our lead if we don't follow our own principles. If a person is a terrorist or consorting with a terrorist organiztion send them to a place where they never see the sun again for the rest of their life. A place that would be identical to what their "Brothers" would do if the roles were reversed.
But first and foremost make sure that the evidence is non-refutable. Do not ruin a persons life because they do not follow the same religious beliefs as we do or due to ethnic profiling.
The current Patriot Act does just this. It MUST NOT CONTINUE AS IS!.
Posted by sngr2 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Civil rights
I refuse to comment on the grounds I may be arrested and without the use of a lawyer or any defence council !! I'm Making a point that is real!
Posted by Domestech (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My name is Matthew M Petrin; from Nashville, Tennessee I have worked successfully in the field of commercial real estate since 1988 for firms and clients such as W. Gerald Ezell, Carl Storey III, Insignia Commercial Group, Prudential Insurance, GE Capital, ARC Properties, Jamestown Properties, First Union National Bank, Crescent Resources, Ambassador Joe Rodgers and Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society.

In 2001 I was partner in the firm CAPITAL Real Estate Services. A string of coordinated events began to occur that appear to have been arranged in an effort to cause division between my partner Deborah (Sutton) Wilson (San Diego, CA) her client Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society (Omaha, NE) and myself. Going forward there has been a constant and professional effort to discredit my character, isolate me from society and drain my finances. There have been several horrific events coordinated on subsequent dates of 9-11 over the years following. I have no history that would be a catalyst to such treatment. Coming out of the business development side of our industry I spent my life entertaining and nurturing client relationships. Researching this scenario in an effort to discover motive for this treatment I have discovered the following facts:

* Woodmen Tower was the tallest building in Omaha in 2001
* Mr. Bush visited Omaha on 9-11-01
* Several executives working in the World Trade Towers were in Omaha on 9-11 attended a
fund raiser hosted by Mr. Warren Buffett, further there was a scheduled tour of Offutt Air
Force Stratcom?s -?Global Guardian? which monitor and control global nuclear systems.

I feel these events are related to 9-11 and a program by a foreign entity to ?snuff? my existence and credibility. For some eight years now I have carried great burden and persecution. People near and dear to me are literally tortured or killed. Since this incident my younger sister Marianne (38 Petrin) Rachelli (Boulder, Colorado) was killed on 9-11-02, my grandmother Denise Petrin (93 Downingtown, PA) killed on 9-12-2003, my sister Suzanne (42 Petrin) Thompson (Nashville, TN) attacked and beat with a steel chair 9-03, my niece Magi Hicks (7-months Murfreesboro, TN) killed and professionally covered up, friend Millard Fuller founder of Habitat for Humanity and Fuller Center for Housing murdered in 2009 with in a twelve hour period of the death of Mr. Joe Rodgers a client during 2002 and 2006 (Mark Gill). I have been extorted (over and over out of belongings, relationships, finances and peace of mind in a deceptive and calculated manner), my ex-wife, daughter, and fiancé literally turned into Manchurian slaves with ?SHELL LIFE? covers, and seem to be going through some type of conditioning/brainwashing or multi-purpose slavery. I have been long suffering and forgiving regarding these atrocities, but they continue. I have been run out of every attempt I have made to work, buffeted and mentally tortured in a constant and degrading campaign without reason or cause. I have donated my time to community service, my money to the poor, and turned myself into the authorities reporting any and all minor infractions that occurred in my entire life. I cherished my wife and my daughter form the day she was born, only to discover this horrific work in the background. I have reported these events, but someone seems to have built a ?moat? between myself and authorities that are able to stop these atrocities. Many citizens including myself have been victims of these circumstances. Tax paying American citizen?s of excellent character. Why am I not receiving citizen protection, rights, or allowed to discuss these occurrences? Are these very acts of protection some how imprisoning us in our own systems?
Posted by matthewpetrin (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot



RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.