Friday, March 03, 2006

Senate Renews USA Patriot Act

As expected, the United States Senate voted yesterday to renew the USA Patriot Act and ended attempts by Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) – the Democrat showing the most true leadership on the issue – to block the law from continuing.

It passed by a vote of 89-10 and will now go to President Bush for signature.

Once the House also approves the bill, 14 of the Patriot Act’s 16 provisions – which have been widely attacked by civil liberties groups – will become permanent.

Feingold was so angry about the bill’s final incarnation that on Wednesday he read the entire Constitution and Bill of Rights into the Senate record to dramatize his opposition to ending debate on modifying the law.

"Without freedom, we are not America. If we don't preserve our liberties, we cannot win this war, no matter how many terrorists we capture or kill," said the Wisconsin Senator.

Thanks to Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT) for joining the following nine Democratic senators in opposing this version of the Patriot Act:
  • Daniel Akaka (D-HI)
  • Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
  • Robert Byrd (D-WV)
  • Russ Feingold (D-WI)
  • Tom Harkin (D-IA)
  • Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
  • Carl Levin (D-MI)
  • Patty Murray (D-WA)
  • Ron Wyden (D-OR)
"Today I voted to ensure that as we protect our country we also protect our civil liberties. I've said all along that we need to strike the right balance, and this bill still falls far short," Patty Murray said. "I take a backseat to no one when it comes to protecting our nation, and I know our security should not come at the expense of the rights and liberties that make our nation strong. We can do better than the bill that came before the Senate today."

Senator Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, concurred with Murray.

“I believe that Americans’ security includes our national security, our security from terrorism and also our right to be secure as Americans,” said Leahy. “And that means exercising the liberties, rights and freedoms that define us as Americans.”