Saturday, February 11, 2006

Wiffle, Waffle, Whatever

Ever since the bankruptcy bill, this Congress has proved to have no backbone, they are either bought and paid for, being blackmailed or so terrified of losing their positions of power that they can no longer serve the people who elected them.
Another Cave-In on the Patriot Act - New York Times: "The Patriot Act has been one of the few issues on which Congress has shown backbone lately. Last year, it refused to renew expiring parts of the act until greater civil liberties protections were added. But key members of the Senate have now caved, agreeing to renew these provisions in exchange for only minimal improvements. At a time when the public is growing increasingly concerned about the lawlessness of the Bush administration's domestic spying, the Senate should insist that any reauthorization agreement do more to protect Americans against improper secret searches.

When the Patriot Act was passed after Sept. 11, 2001, Congress made some of its most far-reaching provisions temporary so it would be able to reconsider them later on. Those provisions were set to expire last December, but Congress agreed to a very short extension so greater civil liberties protections could be added. This week, four key Republican senators — later backed by two Democrats — said that they had agreed to a deal with the White House. It is one that does little to protect Americans from government invasions of their privacy.

One of the most troubling aspects of the Patriot Act is the 'gag order' imposed by Section 215, which prohibits anyone holding financial, medical and other private records of ordinary Americans from saying anything when the government issues a subpoena for those records. That means that a person whose records are being taken, and whose privacy is being invaded, has no way to know about the subpoena and no way to challenge it."
Gulags can't be far behind.
In late December, it looked as if there was bipartisan interest in the Senate for changing the worst Patriot Act provisions and standing up for Americans' privacy rights. Now the hope of making the needed improvements has faded considerably.
Every time it looks like there might be an investigation or resolution of obvious wrongdoing, this Congress collapses from within like a trailer in a tornado.


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