Thursday, March 02, 2006

God I love this country.

Patriot Act compromise passes Senate, awaits House vote.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to renew the USA Patriot Act, after months of pitched debate over legislation that supporters said struck a better balance between privacy rights and the government's power to hunt down terrorists.

Some choice quotes from the article:
"Americans want to defeat terrorism and they want the basic character of this country to survive and prosper," Feingold said. "They want both security and liberty, and unless we give them both -- and we can if we try -- we have failed."
The renewal package would make 14 of 16 temporary provisions permanent and set four-year expirations on the others.
The renewal includes several measures not directly related to terrorism. One would make it harder for illicit labs to obtain ingredients for methamphetamine by requiring pharmacies to sell nonprescription cold medicines only from behind the counter.
"The erosion of freedom rarely comes as an all-out frontal assault," warned Byrd, the dean of the Senate. "Rather, it is a gradual, noxious creeping cloaked in secrecy and glossed over by reassurances of greater security."
The "no" votes came from Jim Jeffords, I-Vermont, and Feingold, Byrd and seven other Senate Democrats: Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Carl Levin of Michigan, Patty Murray of Washington and Ron Wyden of Oregon.
Notice some of those key things... permanent provisions on what was supposed to be short term temporary legislation. Gee, nobody saw that coming... and the expanded use of the USA PATRIOT Act for non-terrorist activities... Gee, nobody saw that coming either (actually it's already been happening quite a bit, even without these explicite powers granted).

At least I can find some very small solace in the fact that my state was one of the scant few to demonstrate any common sense in this debacle. *sigh*

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