Patriot Act Overdue

16 02 2006

From FOXNews

The Senate overwhelmingly rejected an effort Thursday to block renewing the Patriot Act, the 2001 law passed weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks to help the government hunt down terrorists. The 96-3 vote was no suprise to Sen. Russell Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat who was the lone senator to oppose the law four and a half years ago and is the chief obstacle to extending 16 provisions now due to expire March 10. “We still have not addressed some of the most significant problems with the Patriot Act,” Feingold said.

He assumes we all agree there are problems. Just because a Democrat is losing control to smaller government, does not equate to problems.

The changes Feingold was seeking were amendments to set a four-year expiration date on the use of National Security Letters. Another amendment would require the government to notify the subject of a secret search within seven days or obtain court permission to maintain the secrecy for a longer period, rather than the 30-day requirement in the legislation being considered. While the filibuster began as a lone endeavor, Feingold had plenty of company in wanting the 2001 anti-terrorism law to include more curbs on the government’s power to investigate people.

Again, Feingold assumes there are problems with wiretapping and wants to increase government control over surveillance – the exact complaint of most liberals and the media of the Bush administration.

Indeed, virtually every senator who had stood with Feingold last year to kill a House-Senate agreement abandoned the effort this month after two of them, both Republicans, struck a deal with the White House to add more privacy protections. Now, the legislation’s supporters include some of the chamber’s most senior Democrats, and the 60 votes required to overcome Feingold’s filibuster.

Republicans have listened to and complied with nearly all the recommended changes to the Patriot Act. There should not be another wiretapping issue, unless liberals decide to fabricate one again. The Patriot Act deserves a revised chance to do its part to protect our country. Hopefully, when the Senate votes at the end of the month, it will pass this critical Act.

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