Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Fear of the "Patriot Act" Has Spread to Republicans

The Hill is reporting that an uprising among libertarian-minded Republican lawmakers in Washington has derailed (temporarily, at least) the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act, despite hard lobbying by El Presidente and his minions who have been trying to get the law both extended and enlarged prior to its scheduled "sun-set" in 2005.

"As a result of this opposition, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, was forced last week to cancel panel consideration of legislation that would have given law-enforcement officials more tools to pursue suspected terrorists .... Among other powers, the legislation would have given law-enforcement officials the power to compel compliance with administrative subpoenas, one of the most controversial elements of the Patriot Act that a sizeable group of Republicans on the Hill are trying to abolish. Administrative subpoenas may be issued by law-
enforcement agencies without the approval of a court."

In addition to this little rebellion among The Faithful, there are also Republican-introduced bills in both the House and the Senate that explicitly seek to end certain controversial features of the USA Patriot Act. Apparently Republican lawmakers are a good deal more alert to uprisings against provisions of the law all across the broad expanse of the country ... where dozens and dozens of municipal governments, for example, have passed resolutions deploring the unconstitutional power grab that the Patriot Act granted El Presidente and his Attorney General John Ashcroft.

One of the Republicans co-sponsoring the bill in the Senate to eliminate controversial features of the Patriot Act is Arlen Specter, who, if he wins reelection in Pennsylvania and if the Republicans retain control of the Senate, is in line to take over the Senate Judiciary Committee. According to The Hill, "If Specter gets the gavel, it would be more difficult for the administration to reauthorize the Patriot Act without significant changes."

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