May 25, 2011
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has circumvented a call by the newly elected senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, to debate the Patriot Act.
In order to prevent a filibuster, Reid performed “some procedural gymnastics,” according to Fox News, and slipped Patriot Act language into a House small business bill that is considered filibuster-proof.
In doing so, Reid has skirted objections to the bill led by Paul and has moved closer to extending the Patriot Act without debate. Democrats have applauded this effort to rush the extension into law without debate.
“The suggestion that the extension should be debated fueled considerable opposition, particularly from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D – CA), who insisted it would be a ‘huge mistake’ to debate the bill and might threaten national security,” writes Jason Ditz.
On Monday, Paul went on the floor of the Senate and argued against the extension. He introduced the Leahy-Paul amendment which would have National Security Letters expire on December 31, 2013. It also requires the Justice Department inspector general to audit the issuance of NSL letters and expands public reporting on the use of such letters under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The National Security Letter provision of the Patriot Act directly assaults the Fourth Amendment. It expands the FBI’s authority to demand personal customer records from Internet Service Providers, financial institutions and credit companies without prior court approval.