Friday, December 16, 2005

World Magazine AP News - Senators Feigold and Craig filibuster Patriot Act, cloture Fails

This is sad on two levels. Senate business and practical effects.
First, the house and Senate committees have been working overtime all autumn to produce a revised Patriot Act acceptable to everyone. The Patriot Act work has prevented work on other important issues like and amendment to stop judicially mandated gay marriage or legislation on bioethics issues. But now, after all the work had been done, the senator's turn it all into a waste by blocking the final product. Why couldn't they make their opposition clear up front and save the resources of the House and Senate?
Second, this result may get people killed. While the patriot Act may eventually need to be repealed, it is still of critical importance. There are still many terrorists trying to find spectacular ways to kill large numbers of Americans. The limited measures in the Patriot Act are not unreasonable under current circumstances.
The two controversial parts of the act are roving wire taps and secret document production warrants. Roving wire taps are simply bringing wiretapping into the 21st century. No one should be able to defeat a court ordered wire tap with probable cause simply by switching phones. As for the secret warrants for business record or document production two things should be noted: a judge is involved in the process, so there is a safeguard. Second, the records sought are not going to be explorations of ideology, they are going to be items that may help identify the targets of identified terrorists. If you know a man is looking for something to blow up wouldn't you want to know if he had been checking out books on a particular stadium or theme park? And if the warrant were not secret, the bird would obviously fly or go dormant, defeating the investigation and saving him for later works of evil. No, while I would not want a left wing government checking me out as a possible conservative "enemy" by listening to my phones or viewing my records, I do not think that concern outweighs the current concern over terrorism, nor do I think the Patriot act will lead to such political uses. During war American Presidents have suspended Habeas in the past. This President just wants a few reasonable investigatory tools. I think it this sad the filibustering Senators put politics ahead of saving lives.

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