Today, the Judiciary Committee will continue its debate on the renewal of key provision of the PATRIOT Act that are set to expire in December. While some Democrats are unsuccessfully trying to amend the PATRIOT Act to provide increased privacy protection for American citizens, all are in favor of renewing the provisions.
However, FOX News inaccurately described the provisions as being on the “chopping block.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Even a bill proposed by Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont to amend some of the provisions has been dramatically weakened. The new version, according to The New York Times, is a “significantly weaker substitute that he hammered out with Senator Dianne Feinstein of California.”
The Times continued to opine:
“Most disheartening, that substitute dropped language that would have allowed the government to secretly obtain Americans’ business records or ‘tangible things’ only where there is some connection to terrorism or espionage. Senator Richard Durbin, a Democrat of Illinois, proposed an amendment to require a terrorism connection, but it failed.”
PATIOT Act provisions considered especially dangerous by the ACLU include:
- National Security Letters (NSLs).
- Material Support Statute.
- FISA Amendments Act of 2008.
The abuse of National Security Letters by the federal government has been especially frightening. NSLs are what the government uses when it wants to “compel internet service providers, libraries, banks, and credit reporting companies to turn over sensitive information about their customers and patrons.” According to the ACLU, 50,000 of these secret record demands go out each year.
It’s not surprising that these provisions, originally “sunseted” to protect the American people, are being renewed. Likewise, it is not surprising that President Barack Obama, in George-W.-Bush-fashion, supports renewing them. What is surprising is the lack of outrage from the American people. Perhaps they are too busy listening to the fair, balanced and inaccurate reporting of Fox News.