Protecting Us from Our Freedoms:Congress Set to Renew Patriot Act Spy Provisions
by Tom Burghardt
Global ResearchMay 23, 2011
As night follows day, you can count on Congress to serve as loyal servants and willing accomplices of our out-of-control National Security State.
Last week, in another shameless demonstration of congressional “bipartisanship,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) forged a filthy backroom deal that reauthorizes insidious surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act for an additional four years.
“Like clockwork,” the ACLU reports, Reid and McConnell “introduced a bill, S. 1038, that will extend the provisions until June 1, 2015.” As of this writing, the text of that measure has yet to be published.
And, like a faint echo from the past when the Patriot Act was signed into law nearly a decade ago in the wake of the 9/11 provocation and the anthrax attacks, the ACLU tells us that “the Senate begins its debate on Monday with votes possible that same night.”
But why not forego a vote altogether. After all, with the White House “skipping a legal deadline to seek congressional authorization of the military action in Libya” under the War Powers Act, “few on the Hill are objecting,” the Associated Press reports.
Why not extend congressional “courtesy” to the White House over demands that their illegal spying on Americans continue indefinitely “as long as consultations with Congress continue”?
Consensus by congressional Democrats and Republicans over extending the provisions, the World Socialist Web Site reports, “meets the demands of the Obama administration and the Justice Department for a ‘clean’ extension, that is, one that does not make any concessions to concerns over the infringement of civil liberties, particularly in relation to the authorization to seize the records of libraries and other institutions.”
“The idea,” the Associated Press informs us, “is to pass the extension with as little debate as possible to avoid a protracted and familiar argument over the expanded power the law gives to the government.” (emphasis added)
While most of the surveillance powers handed the security apparat were permanent, three controversial provisions had expiration dates attached to the law due to the potential for serious civil rights abuses. Such suspicions were certainly warranted as dozens of reports by Congress and the Justice Department, media investigations and Freedom of Information Act and other lawsuits subsequently disclosed.
The provisions set for renewal include the following: