Kevin Bankston of EFF provides a round-up of reactions to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote on a bill reauthorizing portions of the PATRIOT Act that were set to expire this year:
Yesterday, as the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to recommend and send to the Senate floor a USA PATRIOT Act renewal bill lacking critical civil liberties reforms, EFF’s reaction was much the same as Senator Feingold’s, as he expressed in his post-vote blog post at Daily Kos.
Feingold, one of only three Democrats to vote against the bill and a sponsor of the PATRIOT reform bill the JUSTICE Act, was left scratching his head over how a Democratic super-majority with a Democratic Administration could so thoroughly fail at reforming the PATRIOT Act, a law long maligned by Democrats as an affront to civil liberties. He closed by posing a choice to his Democratic colleagues: “In the end…Democrats have to decide if they are going to stand up for the rights of the American people or allow the FBI to write our laws.”
However, the biggest disappointment of all yesterday was the Obama Administration itself. Of the seven amendments to water down the bill’s civil liberties protections that were offered by the Committee Republicans, at least five of them were recommended by Obama’s Justice Department. As one anonymous Democratic staffer told the New York Times, the amendments “were a verbatim transfer of the text of amendments the Obama administration had privately sent to Congress on Wednesday.”
Read more on EFF.