GOP lobbying defeats bid to curb Patriot Act


An Anonymous Patron writes "News That An effort to ban the government from demanding records from libraries and book sellers in some terrorism investigations fell one vote short of passage in the House on Thursday after a late burst of lobbying prompted eight Republicans to switch their votes.
The vote, which ended in a deadlock, 210-210, amounted to a referendum on the anti-terrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act and reflected deep divisions in Congress over whether the law undercuts civil liberties. Under House rules, a tie vote meant the measure was defeated.

OP/ED Piece from The Boulder News is worth a read as well."


I'm not even sure you can call it "lobbying." I think I'd call it "strong arm tactics." Time ran out on debating the issue and the vote was by some reports 219 to 201 in favor of the amendment. Then Republican leaders pressured other Republicans who had voted "yes" and hassled them to change their votes from yes to no. Time for the vote was more than doubled as Democrats chanted "shame, shame, shame" and you could watch the yes votes diminish. Heck, even Dick Cheney has called these delaying tactics of holding open a roll call "the most heavy- handed, arrogant abuse of power in the 10 years I've been here." when the Democrats did it. Shame indeed.

There is also a difference between harm caused by an individual to an individual and harm caused by a group to a group. In a country of millions you cannot create a harm free environment.

But when you say 'managed' it sorta of sounds like what happened in the Kerry-Larry King interview when Theresa said something along the lines of 'we have to get used to it, Europe's been dealing with it for years.' To me thats battered wife syndrome. 'He didn't really hurt me, he only hit me once, and it doesn't happen that often.'

We treat terrorism as TEOTWAKI because it would be the end 'as we know it'. A country that has the strong core of beliefs that we have cannot tolerate the existence of socities that breed terrorists that then attack us and remain the same.

And again, what freedom have we given up? I'm sorry but privacy is a myth. Long before the Patriot Act if law enforcement wanted they could make a case to get a warrant to watch your every move, tape every intimate moment you have. They don't do it because there is no reason to. Its no different with library records. To assume that the FBI is tramping on your civil liberties is to assume every single law enforcement official is corrupt. It also assumes judges and juries are corrupt because if a case was brought against you you believe that simply having your library records would be enough to convict you.

"Harm from an accident and harm from intent are two different things."Ok. How about the 14,054 murders, just in 2002? (Source: FBI Uniform Crime Reports - 2002 Report) Each of those murderers surely had intent to harm - they just didn't have as much firepower as al-Qaeda.My point in bringing up accidents, murders, etc is to say that terrorism is a risk, not TEOTWAKI, and should be managed as such. This means preventing it when we can; WITHIN our traditional system of civil liberties; and mitigating damage when we cannot. It also means that resources should be allocated to anti-terror efforts in proportion to our actual risks, and not to the proportion of our fears.If the terrorists truly "hate our freedom", then it must give them joy when we give it up through the USAPA, TSA, indefinite detentions, etc. It would be sad indeed if a few more attacks on their part stampede us into emulating the repressive home govt's of many terrorists.

Harm from an accident and harm from intent are two different things.

Secrecy of action is what helps track crimes-in-the-making. I don't like it, you don't like it, but its not new and there's no real way around it. Its like hunting, if you want to catch them alive you've got to be very very quiet. If you don't mind shooting first and asking questions later then there are fewer problems. A pleasant thought in some cases but unlikely.

The Patriot Act is in response to what could have been done before 9/11 it doesn't necessarily have to affect to current problems with obtaining info in investigations. Its more a question of long term.

1) I read that one congressman read a DOJ letter "several times" during the vote that claimed that an al-Qaeda member used "library internet terminals" as recently as this spring. I'm not sure it's true, because it smacks of "I have a list of 57 Communists in the State Dept" that we heard back in the 50s. Where is their evidence?However, let us assume it is true. What are the implications?a) It could be that it means that Sec 215 HAS been used in libraries, contrary to the repeated assurances of the Justice Dept. In this case, we have been lied to. It would be much better if DOJ would simply explain how they've been using 215 and why they need it instead hiding behind a cloak of secrecy and lies.b) It could mean that they don't need Sec 215 to get internet browsing records. Then why use this DOJ letter as proof as we need Sec 215?I know someone is going to whack me for saying this, but more people are killed and injured EVERY SINGLE YEAR in pedestrian traffic accidents than were killed in 9/11. Every year since 1977 drunk drivers have murdered FOUR TIMES as many innocents as died on 9/ is a threat, but it is one threat among many. It is primarily a threat to life and property. Our freedoms cannot be taken away from us by al-Qaeda, only an unchecked government can do that.2) If you haven't already done so, thank your House member if they voted for the amendment and stuck with their vote. I'm proud to say that Rep. Young of Alaska did so and I sent him a thank you note. If you live in Florida, take mdoneil's advice and complain to your MIA House members.

You ladies and gentlemen have a nice argument going about the difference between lobbying, bullying and strong-arming.

However it lacks substance. Arguing definitions gets you no where. Remember we had a president who was not clear what the "Definition of 'is' is."

Perhaps the Democrats rather than sitting around kvetching could have gone and collected the members that did not vote. The vote was 210 to 210. I know that the Florida delegation did not all show up (my post from earlier illuminates that) so we are down 2 from there. However the House has 435 people 2+210+210 = 422, so somewhere there was a Democrat or two other than the pinheads from Florida who didn't vote.

If something is that important to America our Representatives should have the sense to show up and vote on it. If they don't and a measure you supported fails you should most assuredly let them know, buy calling, writing and most importantly voting them out of office.

Whatever evil we may impute to GregS, he strikes me as a guy who is perfectly aware that "what goes around, comes around", and that when the Dems are one day in power again, what has gone around (and, indeed, gone around and come around among Democrats, Whigs, Republicans, et al. as long as this republic has existed) will again come around to the Republicans. I don't think your assumption is fair. Being partisan doesn't mean you don't understand and accept how the game is played. Personally, I don't like strong-arm tactics and procedural tricks, but the rules of parliamentary procedure do provide a check on excesses. Most people are willing to drive 5 MPH over the speed limit; many 10 MPH; but far fewer 20 MPH.

Also, I note a fact omitted thus far from this debate but presented right up front in the story yesterday on the same topic authored by birdie: that "the effort to curb the Patriot Act was pushed by a coalition of Democrats and conservative Republicans." (That's "conservative" with a "c", not a "k", Mr. Nellis! ;-) And, from the Houston Chronicle story: "In all, 18 Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the measure, while four Democrats crossed party lines to oppose it."

I am with the Republicans who favored the amendment to curb the PA, but I also am convinced that if al Qaida have their way, this nation will be in a situation that will make our obsessing over the PA here seem utterly beside the point.

and you know what 'assume' gets you right?

Doesn't matter who you are or what you believe. If you believe it deeply enough you fight for it.

By that you I'll just assume you meant:I have no problem with lobbying, bullying, or strong-arming [by repbulicans] when something important [to republicans] is on the line.Lobbying, bullying, or strong-arming, by a Democrat would, of course, be unpatriotic.

What rules are you referring to?

You're right it is there. But I wasn't implying that you said it wasn't a different debate, just that it wasn't there.

"One Democrat, Rep. Brad Sherman of Sherman Oaks (Los Angeles County), switched from a "no" to a "yes" vote"

This guy *changed his vote* after being bullied by the Dems. Welcome to politics.

If this was really 'against the rules', it wouldn't have happened.

The article you link to doesn't mention Cheney.

Read the article again. It's where I got the quote from, and it does make clear that he was referring to a completely different debate.

I have no problem with lobbying, bullying, or strong-arming when something important is on the line.

I feel that there is a pretty wide range between lobbying, which I expect of my elected representatives, and bullying, which I do not. These people made their vote, and then they changed their vote after being pressured by GOP leaders. If I was one of their constituents, I'd be concerned about that back-n-forth regardless of the issue being discussed.

Jessamyn - this is simply the world of politics. Nothing new here. The perception of "strong arm tactics", I am sure you would agree, is strictly relative.

For example, I happen to consider the tactics of Charlie Schumer, Patrick Leahy, Ted Kennedy and Tom Daschle with "lobbying" Senate Democrats to continue with incessant filibustering and procedural maneuvering re Bush's judicial nominees as "strong armed".

Make sense?

I have no problem with lobbying, bullying, or strong-arming when something important is on the line.

So the rules go out the window when you decide that something is important enough?
I'd hardly call myself a fan of yours, Greg, but I had thought better of you than that.

The article you link to doesn't mention Cheney. This one says the vote Cheney talked about was from 1987 and concerned a budget bill.

I have no problem with lobbying, bullying, or strong-arming when something important is on the line.

Perhaps rather than blaming Republican maneuvering more attention should be paid to Democrats that failed to vote. Florida Democrats who have previously remarked how important every citizens’ vote is after they lost the White House, failed to make sure that all of their State’s Democratic representatives bothered to vote. Representative Peter Deutsch did not vote. Judging from Deutsch’s website and press releases he is not terribly concerned with anything other than feel good legislation honoring veterans, supporting troops, and raising awareness about the Everglades; issues far from controversial and far from substantive.

Representative Alcee Hastings A former US District Court Judge who was impeached and removed from the bench (one of only seven Federal judges removed from office this way since the founding of our nation – an exclusive club indeed)also failed to vote. Hastings, removed from office for soliciting a bribe, perjury and conspiracy, ran and was elected to the House in 1992. It is unfortunate that the framers of our Constitution failed to recognize the levels to which our nation would sink and not explicitly prohibit persons removed from public office by impeachment to hold another public office. Waggoner v. Hastings clarified the issue, although it demonstrates a failure in our rule of law.

The south Floridians who re-elect this Honorable Representative again and again must be quite proud that he has spoken so resoundingly on the importance of their individual votes but fails in his obligation to represent his constituents in the remarkably important vote on Civil Liberties. If you elect scheming con men to office, don’t expect too much of them I might opine.

So Democrats may want to look inside their own house before blaming others. A single vote was needed to change the outcome; Florida’s Democratic legislative delegation dropped the ball on this one.

If you share your concerns with your representatives, please ask if they’ll show up to vote, otherwise you're wasting your time.

I have no problem with lobbying, bullying, or strong-arming when something important is on the line.
Greg McClay

You mean like when our ability to be boy and girl heroes for anti-merkin terra-ists is compromised? Can we bust commies, too?