Opposing The Patriot Act

by Conor Friedersdorf

The Washington Post reports that some members of Congress are stepping up:

A measure to extend key provisions of the Patriot Act counterterrorism surveillance law through December failed the House Tuesday night, with more than two-dozen Republicans bucking their party to oppose the measure.

Here are the specifics:

The measure would have extended three key provisions of the Patriot Act that are set to expire on Monday, Feb. 28, unless Congress moves to reauthorize them. One of the provisions authorizes the FBI to continue using roving wiretaps on surveillance targets; the second allows the government to access "any tangible items," such as library records, in the course of surveillance; and the third is a "lone wolf" provision of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act that allows for the surveillance of targets who are not connected to an identified terrorist group.

And good on Dennis Kucinich for his gamesmanship:

"The 112th Congress began with a historic reading of the U.S. Constitution," Kucinich said. "Will anyone subscribe to the First and Fourth Amendments tomorrow when the PATRIOT Act is up for a vote? I am hopeful that members of the Tea Party who came to Congress to defend the Constitution will join me in challenging the reauthorization."

In fact, some Tea Party alligned Republicans did buck their party. And Rand Paul, the one Senate candidate I defended during the last election, has said that he has reservations about the bill. Let's hope he opposes it in the Senate. If so, that is one area where the Tea Party will have done some good. Of course, overall "twenty-six Republicans voted with 122 Democrats to oppose the measure, while 67 Democrats voted with 210 Republicans to back it," so the GOP has a long way to go on protecting civil liberties.