Hawkish Cowards

DiA finds it remarkable that the Patriot Act renewal hasn't gotten more attention:

It would be a serious mistake for the Senate to forgo a golden opportunity to revisit the broad array of surveillance powers created over the past eight yearsat first in the panicked aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and then in the shadow of a bellicose administration quick to tar opponents as soft on terror. It is hardly a surprise that investigators prefer the greatest possible latitude in carrying out their inquiriesand there may well be reason to grandfather investigations already in progress under the current rules. But if the standard practice of the intelligence agencies now involves programmes that cannot proceed without authority to conduct dragnet acquisition of records without even a tenuous secondhand connection to suspected terrorists or their activities, as Mr Leahy's original bill would have required, there is something wrong with that practice. The parlous incentive for legislators in the intelligence sphere is always, alas, to defer to the executive: Abuses of power will, by definition, occur in secretwhile any intelligence failure is apt to be both visible and blamed on any who had the temerity to call "halt". The stage then seems set for yet another show of war-on-terror "toughness" born of cowardice.