The Corner

Specter’s Patriot Games

House and Senate negotiators made a deal on the Patriot Act late on Tuesday night. The next day, however, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter reneged on the deal because Pat Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the committee, didn’t like it.

There are three major issues outstanding. 1) The House had voted to renew several provisions of the Patriot Act for ten years, the Senate for four. The negotiators had split the difference: 7 years. But Leahy wants to re-open the deal to bring that number down. 2) Recipients of national security letters can’t disclose that they have received them. The bill loosens the rule, but creates penalties for breaking it. Leahy doesn’t want any penalties if the rule wasn’t broken with the specific intent of disrupting an investigation. 3) Recipients of the NSLs are supposed to notify the FBI before they contact a lawyer—just in case the lawyer they’re calling is Lynne Stewart or a Mohammed Atta who’s gone to law school. Leahy wants that provision dropped.

Most Republicans aren’t inclined to give ground on these issues. Specter’s Republican colleagues are furious that he’s gone back on his word, but they haven’t been saying anything to the press because they still want to get his signature on a deal.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

White House

What Is Hillary Clinton Thinking?

When Homer Simpson looks in the mirror, he sees ripped chest muscles and arms like the trunks of beech trees. When Hillary Clinton looks in the mirror, she sees America’s sweetheart. She thinks: America adores me. She thinks: America already chose me to be president once! She thinks: Everyone is comparing me ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Grassley’s Kangaroo Court

So now it looks like next Thursday. On Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s manifestly meritorious nomination to the Supreme Court, what was supposed to be the vote out of the Senate Judiciary Committee this past Thursday now appears to be sliding into a hearing to be held next Thursday. Or, who knows, maybe a Thursday ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Censure Dianne Feinstein

Regardless of the fate of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, the Senate should censure the ranking Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein. Her deception and maneuvering, condemned across the political spectrum, seriously interfered with the Senate’s performance of its constitutional duty to ... Read More
U.S.

Are We on the Verge of Civil War?

Americans keep dividing into two hostile camps. It seems the country is back to 1860 on the eve of the Civil War, rather than in 2018, during the greatest age of affluence, leisure, and freedom in the history of civilization. The ancient historian Thucydides called the civil discord that tore apart the ... Read More