The Corner

Shhhhh, Don’t Tell Anyone — The Patriot Act Was Reauthorized

After a lot of huffing and puffing, about the need to add more civil-liberties protections to a law already teeming with them, the Democrat-controlled Senate quietly voted to extend the three Patriot Act provisions that would have expired without reauthorization. Although beating back Patriot and its sensible national-security provisions has been a rallying cry for the Left, Senate Democrats agreed to a clean reauthorization on a voice-vote. The New York Times managed just a paragraph, culled from the AP wire, to report the extension. Why so quiet? There are a couple of reasons, I suspect, and Michelle Malkin — ever on the case — gives us both of them.

First, as Rep. Pete King (R., N.Y.) points out, the Patriot Act surveillance measures were critical to the FBI’s ability to break the case against Najibullah Zazi, who wanted to mark the eighth anniversary of 9/11 by bombing New York City. As I noted in a column earlier this week, the Obama administration is dubiously using the Zazi case as a testament to the effectiveness of the civilian justice system in countering “violent extremism” (wouldn’t want to use the I-word or the T-word). So it’s bad timing to be dumping on Patriot.

Second, Michelle adds, is the leadership of the anti-Patriot movement: CAIR. Who wouldn’t want to be associated on a terrori ”violent extremism “issue with a Muslim Brotherhood front, created for the purpose of promoting Hamas under the camouflage of “civil rights,” that was recently alleged and shown to be a co-conspirator in a Hamas-financing case? Laughably, CAIR alleges that the Patriot Act is “undermining the integration” of the Muslim community in the U.S. The last thing CAIR is interested in is integrating the Muslim community. To the contrary, CAIR and other Muslim Brotherhood groups pursue a strategy of voluntary apartheid, the goal of which is to set up Islamic enclaves living under sharia law — the very strategy that is now dis-integrating Europe.

In any event, kudos go not just to Pete King but to others, including Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), who worked diligently to get Patriot re-authorized. Senator Sessions put out this statement last night:

The PATRIOT Act is a bipartisan bill that has helped save countless lives by equipping our national security community with the tools it needs to keep America safe. Recent terror attacks, such as those at Ft. Hood and on Christmas Day, demonstrate just how severe of a threat we are facing. There is simply no reason to weaken the PATRIOT Act—and every reason not to. This extension keeps PATRIOT’s security measures in place and demonstrates that there is a growing recognition that these crucial provisions must be preserved. We are now one step closer to what is needed: a full, long-term reauthorization.

Senator Sessions, it should be noted, tried along with Sens. Kit Bond (R., Mo.) and Joe Lieberman (I., Conn.) to get Patriot reauthorized for four years. In the event, it was only reauthorized for one. Obviously, Democrats decided the timing was bad now, but they’ll be back yet again next year to try to gut the contested provisions.

That goes to show just how lunatic they are on security issues. To sensible people, there is absolutely nothing objectionable about the three Patriot powers in question. One is roving wiretaps, which criminal investigators have been using for years so that they don’t need to get a new court order every time a suspect changes phones. Another is the business-records provision – the Left sometimes calls it the “library records” provision even though library records are not mentioned in it — which simply allows national-security agents to collect information on terrorist suspects almost (but not quite) as easily as criminal investigators can. And finally, there is the “lone wolf” law (not part of the original Patriot Act but now tied to it), which allows agents to go after someone as to whom the evidence that he is a terrorist is strong but the evidence that he is tied to a known terrorist organization is weak.

You may ask: Why should there be any time limits on the operation of these laws? Wouldn’t we always want our agents to be able to do these things — a year from now, four years from now, or a hundred years from now? Good questions.


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