The “Four more years!” chant you may have heard last night was not an enthusiastic crowd supporting a presidential nominee. It was the groan of civil libertarians as Congress authorized an extension of three PATRIOT Act provisions that would have sunsetted this morning. The roll call from the Senate is here; from the House, here.
Despite repeated rhetoric about improving safeguards, despite disturbing revelations by Senator Ron Wyden and three other senators that the government has a “secret” interpretation of one of the provisions that it appears to be applying to engage in domestic surveillance unrelated to terrorism and that goes far beyond what the public understands the law to allow, Congress passed the reauthorization.
Time and time again, Congress has used fear and deadlines to get the PATRIOT Act reauthorized instead of really dealing with the civil rights protections that are needed. Despite lukewarm campaign promises about revising FISA, this administration has been no better – and in some ways, is worse – than the previous administration.
I’ll have more on this in the future as a secret surveillance program – again – cannot be allowed to continue.
For now, think about this:
Memorial Day is soon upon us. When you think about those who gave their lives defending our country and freedoms, ask yourself how they might have felt being asked to sacrifice their lives for a country that lies to its own people and spies on them. Is that a country worth fighting and dying for?
Shame on most members of Congress. And shame on the Department of Justice. You cannot rationalize your deception and bad acts in the name of keeping me safe. Not in my name. Not now. Not ever.