Thursday, December 22, 2005

Clean up that Act!

PATRIOT Act put on life-support; subject to surgery

The Senate vote Wednesday night marked a turnabout for GOP leaders, who had long insisted they would accept nothing less than a permanent renewal of the law.

Passage of a one-month extension means lawmakers will debate the issue early in 2006, and is certain to require concessions to the Senate critics who are seeking greater privacy protections.

Republicans who had pushed for legislation that would make most of the expiring provisions permanent said the agreement only postpones the ongoing arguments over the Patriot Act for six months. “We’ll be right back where we are right now,” said a clearly frustrated Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

The PATRIOT Act is definitely in trouble. You wouldn't renew an apartment lease for one month, unless you needed the time to figure out how best to flee the place. Though the purpose of the one-month renewal is to allow the act to continue while Congress is in recess, the fact that the Senate had previously proposed a six-month renewal speaks volumes about the state of the PATRIOT. If some serious changes weren't about to go down, they would have given the act longer life-support.

An analogy: earlier this year, I brought my truck in to get a brake job. While the garage had a banner advertising the repair for as low as $69, my wear was far more extensive and ran up to $700. Not being able to swing that bill, and thinking my truck was on its last wheels anyway, I asked the mechanic if I had any other options. He said that, for $400, they could add some shoe to my existing brakes, a procedure that would carry me for three or four months at most. That sounded iffy, so I took out a loan and went full-throttle (as it turned out, my truck seized almost exactly four months later, so in retrospect I could have settled for the jerry-rigging). But despite assuming that my truck had little life left, and being too poor to afford it, I went for the full repair. Why? Because you never know.

Which brings us back to the PATRIOT Act. With all the fear-mongering still going on in Washington, long-term renewal of the act should have been a slam dunk. Even with the problems the Senate faced regarding its provisions, the act would have been extended much further if they thought it was even close to being salvaged in its current form. Because you never know.

I guess sometimes you DO know.


Flamingo Jones said...

I think the Patriot Act is going to tank, in its current form.

There are some provisions that can be useful in our fight against al queda (and other terrorist cells), without compromising civil liberties for the rest of us, and I have high hopes that those are the provisions that will stick.

(Although, we all know what happens when I have high hopes about Alberto will probably have all of us dissenters in a special "camp" by next Christmas. I'll see you there, Ian.)

Michael said...

Well, hell, if Bush is just going to break laws whenever he feels like it, what the hell does he need the PATRIOT Act for? They really need to make up their minds about this whole imperial presidency thing!

Neil Shakespeare said...

they're just using the holiday recess to spitshine their jackboots.

Jester said...

"I have high hopes that those are the provisions that will stick."

I'm glad to see that at least one person in this thread so far has some sense, Flamingo. All the mindless Bush-bashing that follows your comment numbs my mind.

Ian McGibboney said...

Jester, what Flamingo says makes sense because, believe it or not, no American wants to leave their nation vulnerable.

However, there is such as a thing as overreaching. The PATRIOT Act brings to mind the old cliche, "Burned down the house to kill a few ants." Except in this case, there were no ants; the problem turned out to be peeling paint. But when fire is your only solution to everything, you tend to abuse it. And nothing good can come out of that.