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December 16, 2005 09:00 AM UTC

Ken Salazar Beats Back PATRIOT Act

  • by: Colorado Pols

Early this afternoon, Senator Ken Salazar teamed up with a few others from both parties to keep alive a filibuster against renewing key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, arguing forcefully that they amounted to a violation of Americans’ basic privacy rights.

He was successful, as the Rocky Mountain News reports:

Backers of the sweeping anti-terrorism law warned that the move could leave gaping holes in the country’s homeland security, but Salazar and other lawmakers said they had too many unresolved questions about civil rights protections.

“Unfortunately, these concerns were not addressed in the conference report, and I’m left with no choice but to work with my colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, to defeat the bill before us,” Salazar told colleagues during this morning’s debate.

By a 52-47 vote, the Senate fell short of the 60 votes it would have taken to invoke “cloture” and force a final up-or-down vote on the reauthorization bill. Backers of the bill were rushing to get a final vote before congress adjourns for the holiday recess, since the original Patriot Act, enacted in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism attacks, is set to expire Dec. 31.

“God help us if there’s some kind of terrorist attack when we are not protected by the Patriot Act,” Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, argued.

“I dare say, the American people will hold us accountable if anything happens and we’re not able to extend and reauthorize the Patriot Act,” Kyl said.

Friday’s debate was influenced by a New York Times report that President Bush signed an executive order in 2002 authorizing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on international telephone calls and e-mail messages within the United States without court-approved warrants.

“These allegations, if true, are deeply, deeply troubling,” Salazar said. “If we needed a wake-up call about the need for additional civil liberty protections, this report is the wake-up call.”

The issue of freedom from unreasonable search and seizure is truly bipartisan, as a trip to Newt Gingrich’s Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances website makes pretty clear: this is one of those transcendent issues in American politics that puts Grover Norquist on the same side with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Democrats are looking for a short-term reauthorization of the Act while they continue to negotiate for changes to the most onerous provisions. That’s all Salazar says he wants, but either way it should prove to be a very smart political stand for himprovided nothing John Kyl warned of comes true in the meantime, of course.


7 thoughts on “Ken Salazar Beats Back PATRIOT Act

  1. God help us if we don’t free ourselves from the fear factor the likes of Kyl hoists upon us. Get a backbone! Say no to fascism! Say no to fear! Say no the the military industrioal comlex! Say to to corporate america who’s altar is soley relegated to profits. Say NO to war. Say yes to Peace!

  2. God help us if our civil liberties are disregarded to find ‘terrorists’. Wait… that already happens under the Patriot Act. Though i’m still unsure what drilling in Alaska and meth has to do with terrorism.

  3. Quote of the Day:

    Senator Salazar regarding domestic spying:

    “If we needed a wake-up call about the need for adequate civil liberties protections to be written into our laws ? this is that wake-up call,” said Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), part of a bipartisan group of senators who ignited the filibuster fight.

  4. I applaud Ken’s stand.
    The PATRIOT Act was never necessary to catch terrorists.
    But, it has been used for other purposes, such as go after ordinary criminals.
    PATRIOT and RICO have a lot in common. Both were “essential” and both have been used way outside their intent.
    Omnibus laws such as these are never good.


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