The House renewed controverial parts of The Patriot Act yesterday. On whether these provisions ought to have been approved, unsurprisingly, Julian Sanchez eviscerates the folks at Heritage - who defended these powers:
What evidence do the authors have that any of the three expiring authorities were "vital" in any of those cases? There just isn't any. Even if it were true, the authors would have no basis in the public record for the assertion. The evidence we do have, however, suggests just the opposite. Lone Wolf has never been used, so it certainly wasn't vital. FISA roving authority has been granted an average of 22 times per year since Patriot, and in many of those cases, investigators found they didn't end up needing to use it. And none of the reports I can recall reading on apprehended wannabe-terrorists suggested that they were practicing sophisticated countersurveillance tactics.
As Sanchez notes, "it's telling just how poorly the case against reform stands up to scrutiny in the rare instances when the law's defenders feel obliged to make an argument more sustained than 'Boo! Terrorists!'"