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Obama Sides with Republicans; PATRIOT Act Renewal Bill Passes Senate Judiciary Committee Minus Critical Civil Liberties Reforms

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 EmptySuit obama
Electronic Frontier Foundation  

It looks like most of the Senators on the Judiciary Committee weren’t swayed by last week’s New York Times editorial, which suggested they consider USA PATRIOT Act renewal a “critical chance to add missing civil liberties and privacy protections, address known abuses and trim excesses that contribute nothing to making America safer.” Instead, the Committee passed a bill to renew all of the PATRIOT powers that were set to expire at the end of the year, with only a handful of the original reforms that were first proposed by Senators Feingold and Durbin’s JUSTICE Act and Committee Chairman Leahy’s original PATRIOT renewal bill.

No, rather than adding more protections to the bill, the Committee voted to accept seven Republican amendments to the USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act to remove the few civil liberties protections left in the bill after it was already watered down at the previous Committee meeting. Surprisingly and disappointingly, most of those amendments were recommended to their Republican sponsors by the Obama Administration.

As Senator Feingold so elegantly stated in his post-vote blog post on Daily Kos: “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.”

More info and see how the vote went here.

Fact Check on FOX News’ Misleading PATRIOT Act Reporting

It appears that the only television news network that’s been regularly covering the PATRIOT Act renewal process in Congress has been FOX News, and its coverage has seemed a lot more like pro-PATRIOT propaganda than unbiased news reporting. Fortunately, Julian Sanchez of The Cato Institute has been fact-checking this closely.

For Julian Sanchez’s blog post:

http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2009/10/02/misleading-on-patriot-reauthorization/

For Julian Sanchez’s video:

http://www.juliansanchez.com/2009/10/06/fox-on-patriot-a-video-fisking/

For the full details:

* Appeals Court Denies Government Motion to Delay Release of Telecom Lobbying Records

On October 9, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the government’s emergency motion asking for a 30-day stay of Friday’s deadline to release records relating to telecom lobbying. A district court had imposed that deadline in EFF’s Freedom of Information Act

(FOIA) case for records about corporate-government meetings during last year’s telecom immunity debate. Congress eventually passed legislation giving complete immunity from legal liability to corporations that participated in government spying.

The government filed another emergency motion with the district court on the afternoon following the 9th Circuit’s decision, again asking for a stay pending its decision on whether or not to appeal. The district court held the matter over until this week, when it will decide whether a further stay is appropriate.

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