Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Patriot Games: Libertarian Republicans Rising Up

The Patriot Act is currently blocked in the Senate with our friend from Janesville leading the charge. The real strength in the opposition is not from the Democrats on board but rather the Republicans who took a stand in the name of curtailing government intrusion and protecting civil liberties. These individuals are the minority libertarian Republicans in the Senate and include Lisa Murkowski (AK), John Sununu (NH), Larry Craig (ID). Some recent quotes:

"In my state, I think there's pretty strong support for protecting civil liberties during times of war and peace." --John Sununu

"Folks, when we're dealing with civil liberties, you don't compromise them," --Larry Craig

“With a few modest but critical improvements, like making sure that when the government seeks library records it has to show that those records have some connection to a suspected terrorist or spy, we can give the government the powers it needs while also protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.” --Russ Feingold

Looking at the bill, here are some controversial parts:

Information Sharing

Sec. 203(b) and (d): Allows information from criminal probes to be shared with intelligence agencies and other parts of the government.

Roving Wiretaps

Sec. 206: Allows one wiretap authorization to cover multiple devices, eliminating the need for separate court authorizations for a suspect's cell phone, PC and Blackberry, for example.

Access to Records

Sec. 215: Allows easier access to business records in foreign intelligence investigations.

Foreign Intelligence Wiretaps and Searches

Sec. 218: Lowers the bar for launching foreign intelligence wiretaps and searches.

“Sneak & Peek” Warrants

Sec. 213: Allows "Sneak and peek" search warrants, which let authorities search a home or business without immediately notifying the target of a probe.

Material Support

Sec. 805: Expands the existing ban on giving "material support" to terrorists to include "expert advice or assistance."

I personally do not know where I stand on a number of these issues and do not know how much power the federal government should have in terms of surveillance and intelligence gathering? I do know though that Congress should be looking at this bill with a critical eye and should not pass it blindly or simply because the White House is pushing it. The country needs to continue to take precautionary measures in order to be safe but excessive and unwarranted surveillance and intrusion is not what our country is about. The bill hopefully will be amended so that FBI and CIA intelligence gathering is lawful and fair, keeping the civil liberties of this nation in mind.


  • Hey-

    You posted awhile back on GOP3.com as interesting in joining the College Republican Blog Alliance. If you are still interested send me an email at info@gop3.com .

    Great blog!
    Brandon Henak

    By Anonymous Brandon Henak, at 12:49 PM  

  • Intersting post. While I personally support the PATRIOT ACT almost completely, here's the point that you made in your post which is important. "I'm not quite sure how I feel...."
    This is important for the same reason that this actually being discussed and there being more than one vote in oposition is. As with so many other politics, a lot of the times the end DOESN'T or SHOULDN'T justify the means. At least the legislature has come to grips with the reality that whatever the benefits of the PATRIOT ACT may be, the costs and the hazards need to be given fair consideration.

    By Blogger BadgerZach, at 3:33 AM  

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