17 December 2005

GOP gets GOPunked on PATRIOT Act

WASHINGTON -- The Senate, bowing to pressure from civil libertarians of all political stripes, delivered a staggering blow to President George W. Bush on Friday by blocking reauthorization of the Patriot Act's eavesdropping provisions, which expire on Dec. 31.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), working with the White House, fell eight votes short of getting the 60 necessary to stop Democrats and conservative Republicans from filibustering the act's reauthorization.

The filibuster threat was enough to scuttle passage of the act in its current form during the pre-Christmas legislative rush. The anti-filibuster measure failed 52 to 47.

"Those that would give up essential liberties in pursuit of a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security," said Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.).

Three other Republicans bucked party leadership, citing concerns over the government's ease in obtaining roving wiretaps or accessing gun, medical and bank records.
Note to GOP Leadership: the "questioning the will of Dear Leader jeopardizes national security" line of shit you've been slinging for so long isn't selling any more.

Addendum to Note to GOP leadership: Assurances about not abusing already questionable extensions of power ring especially hollow when your man at 1600 gets caught ordering international intelligence structures to spy on American citizens without warrants. Kudos to Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) for knocking that one out of the park during the Senate debate:
"And I don’t want to hear again from the Attorney General or anyone on this floor that this government has shown it can be trusted to use the power we give it with restraint and care. This shocking revelation ought to send a chill down the spine of every Senator and every American."
After the faux "victory" on the McCain amendment, this one was nice. I can only hope this represents an end to the GOP's ability to fear-monger and browbeat their way to legislative success by painting every "Nay" vote as a vote against the safety of the American people. Of course, all the usual suspects, including the Preznit himself, were out in force decrying the irresponsibility of the move, all but guaranteeing another 9/11 would result. BushCo sent PR stooge extraordinaire, Scott McClellan, out to wag the finger:
"In the war on terror, we cannot afford to be without these vital tools for a single moment...the time for Democrats to stop standing in the way has come."
A single moment? Really? You guys must be willing to do anything to keep it all on the books, right?
The Senate scrapped a Democratic-led effort to renew the USA Patriot Act for just three months – an extension that Republicans considers too short – increasing prospects that provisions the administration believes indispensable to the war on terrorism may soon expire.

"The House of Representatives opposes such an extension and the president will not sign such an extension," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told his colleagues in a floor showdown Friday as lawmakers scurried to finish business for the year.

Surely that was just the Rev. Frist trying to rally his troops. After all, we can't be without these provisions for a single moment. Dear Leader said so.
White House allies said they would rather see the law's 16 temporary provisions expire entirely than give opponents another three months or more to keep whittling away at them.

"A short-term extension is irresponsible," said House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., a day after his chamber passed the conference agreement, 251-174.
Or not.

Which is it, boys? A crucial protection, or something to let vanish and then have to build from scratch? Because it's very interesting how measures so allegedly vital to our national interests could possibly still be fair game for playing "cut off our nose to spite our face" political games. Shit, if you're so worried about the "whittling away" that could occur during a three month extension, what, exactly, do you think if you had to do this all from square one without Ground Zero still smouldering in the background? Not surprisingly, the MSM has once again abdicated its responsibility and refused to point out this ridiculous state of affairs, choosing, instead, to echo, over and over, Chimpy's admonishments from his weekly radio address. Also, not surprisingly, Democratic leadership has elected not to hammer this "my way or the highway" recalcitrance that's so typical for this administration and its acolytes.

Between PATRIOT and the emerging Warrant(less)gate, 2006 starts now, boys and girls. Frist is a blatant liar and whore for the Evangeliban, DeLay is flailing, Santorum is weak and hurt by his association with Dubya, whose unapologetic trampling of the rule of law is pushing him away from "imperialist" straight towards "despot."

Eye on the ball, shall we?

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