While an extension of the Patriot Act, that landmark bill which ushered in the America’sBig Brother, “turnkey totalitarian state” (previewed here long before Edward Snowden’s shocking revelations), is just a matter of time, supporters of the Fourth Amendment scored a brief victory last night when following yet another marathon 10 hour filibuster…
Will be seeing everyone overnight it seems. My filibuster continues to end NSA illegal spying.
— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) May 23, 2015
… and refusal to play by the script by Rand Paul, the Senate failed to extend the Patriot Act, leaving the future of America’s “war against terrorists” but really against “enemies domestic“, i.e., anyone who uses email, has a cell phone or in any other electronic way communicates with others, in limbo.
As the WSJ recalls Friday night’s events, Senators first rejected a House bill overhauling the NSA, a two-month Patriot Act extension and then increasingly short extensions of the law.
Beginning shortly after midnight, the Senate narrowly blocked a House bill ending the NSA’s collection of bulk phone information, requiring the government instead to obtain court approval to request phone records from companies on a case-by-case basis. The vote to move forward with the House bill was 57-42, short of the 60 votes needed to clear the Senate’s procedural threshold. The bill had easily cleared the House with bipartisan support last week and was backed by the White House.
Which is ironic because less than a month ago a Federal Appeals court found that NSA spying on US citizens is not only authorized by the Patriot Act, but is outright illegal. So how and why Congress can even consider an extension to an illegal program is a bit of a mystery.
Following the defeat of the House bill, the Senate then blocked a two-month extension of the Patriot Act, the 2001 law that expanded the government’s authority to search for terror suspects. The two-month patch was defeated in a 45-54 procedural vote
Ironically, the showdown was between two Kentucky Republicans: the senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and presidential candidate Rand Paul:
Known for his meticulous, long-range political strategizing, Mr. McConnell had surprised many in the Capitol by taking on a fight with the House over the nitty-gritty policy details of the bill. In particular, Mr. McConnell worried that the House bill wouldn’t require phone companies to retain the phone records information that could help authorities spot terrorist activity.
“This is beyond troubling,” Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor Friday. “We should not establish an alternate system that contains a glaring hole in its ability to function, namely the complete absence of any requirement for data retention.”
Which of course is a total lie: recall that just last November, the “Surveillance State Wins – Senate Votes To Allow NSA Bulk Data Collection To Continue.” As a further reminder, the only reason for the existence of the NSA’s massive Bluffdale, UT storage facility is simple: to store every electronic communication everywhere, and for ever.
The facility above is where everyone’s back up phone records and emails are stored.
In the end it was almost entirely due to the objections Rand Paul that the Senate couldn’t agree to pass even a 24-hour extension of the Patriot Act, the 2001 law that followed the September 11 events.
“This is a debate that should be had,” Paul said on the Senate floor early Saturday. He said he would have agreed to a short-term Patriot Act extension had Senate leaders guaranteed two of his amendments would see future votes and would be able to pass with 50 votes.
With the chamber’s two primary options exhausted, Mr. McConnell sought
to get an agreement to extend the Patriot Act for a week, and then
periods of four and two days and finally, one day. But Mr. Paul and some
Democratic senators, including Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico,
objected. Mr. Paul has made the NSA program a centerpiece of his 2016
campaign, saying it violates Fourth Amendment protections against
unreasonable search and seizure.
Since in Congress every day is opposite day, some promptly spun the brief restoration of the 4th Amendment as “jeopardizing to Americans’ civil liberties and national security.”
“The Senate has failed to make the important reforms necessary, jeopardizing Americans’ civil liberties and our national security,” the House Judiciary Committee’s chairman, Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) and top Democrat, John Conyers of Michigan, said in a statement with two other lawmakers after the House bill was defeated in the Senate.
Amusingly, as the Senate left for this week’s Memorial Day recess, nobody had any idea how to proceed. Quote The Hill:
Leaving the Capitol, Republicans seemed confused on what their leader’s next steps would be.
“That’s a really good question,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said, when asked what would change between Saturday and when senators return to Washington for a rare Sunday session on May 31.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) seemed equally unsure if Paul would accept a deal before returning to Washington.
“I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. They march to a different drum,” the Armed Services Committee chairman said, adding that he was sure Paul’s tactics were “a great revenue raiser.”
McCain knows all about raising revenue: let’s compare revenue raising dear war hawk neocon Armed Services Committee John McCain, shall we:
John McCain (source):
and Rand Paul (source):
We show this just in case there is any confusion who is just a little bit more detached from the interests of America’s “main street” and middle class, assuming one is still left.