Congress Passes PATRIOT Act Extension Before Midnight Deadline

Late last night, with only hours to spare before its expiration, Congress predictably extended the PATRIOT Act for another four years:

The U.S. Congress yesterday approved, and President Barack Obama signed into law, a four-year extension of provisions in the USA Patriot Act that allow law enforcement to track suspected terrorists with roving wiretaps.

The legislation was first passed by the Senate, 72-23, followed by the House, 250-153.

(…)

The measure “will safeguard us from future attacks,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said before his chamber’s vote. “By extending this invaluable terror- fighting tool, we’re staying ahead” of terrorists who want to attack the U.S., he said.

The bill’s roving-wiretap section allows federal agents to obtain a single warrant to monitor telephone calls of suspects using a series of mobile phones.

Other provisions allow authorities to obtain business and library records, and to target so-called “lone wolf” suspects who aren’t affiliated with any terrorist group.

Senator Rand Paul, a bill opponent, tried to delay the Senate vote, pressing for the bill to be amended. The Kentucky Republican said the legislation goes too far in violating privacy rights to keep the U.S. secure.

“Do we want a government that looks at our Visa bill?” he said in a May 24 floor speech. “Do we want a government that looks at all of our records and is finding out what our reading habits are?”

Paul also proposed two amendments that would have limited the act, but they were both defeated. Nonetheless, he is to be thanked for fighting the good fight. Hopefully someone noticed this:

FILED UNDER: Congress, National Security, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Ben says:

    Wow, both of my senators voted for this rubbish. Glad to see that Democrats can be counted on to protect my civil liberties. At least my congressman had some balls. Ugh.

    Good on you, Senator Paul.

  2. Paul Rudd says:

    Well, looks like i’m moving to a new country.
    Any suggestions?