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News Link • Homeland Security

Patriot Act To Be Renewed By Stealth in New Congress

"Given the very limited number of days Congress has in session before the current deadline, and the fact that the bill’s Republican sponsor is only seeking another year, I think it’s safe to read this as signaling an agreement across the aisle to put the issue off yet again," the conservative-leaning Cato Institute's Julian Sanchez wrote. "In the absence of a major scandal, though, it’s hard to see why we should expect the incentives facing legislators to be vastly different a year from now," he added. "I’d love to be proven wrong, but I suspect this is how reining in the growth of the surveillance state becomes an item perpetually on next year’s agenda." As senator, Obama promised to support reforming the Patriot Act, but voted in favor of extending it in 2005 and 2008. Similarly, he signed last year's extension into law with little fanfare. FBI and Department of Justice officials had consistently argued that restricting their blanket authority to conduct warrantless searches would harm national security. Candidate Obama said in 2007 that if he were elected president there would be "no more National Security Letters [NSL's] to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime" because "that is not who we are, and it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists." Much like Obama's vow to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison, the use of NSL's has also continued. Most recently, Obama's Department of Justice sent an NSL to micro-blogging site Twitter, seeking information on all 635,561 users who followed secrets outlet WikiLeaks -- a list that included Raw Story.

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