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Senate Dems abandon reforms, vote to extend Patriot Act

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Unable to find the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster, Senate Democrats abandoned proposals to reform the Patriot Act and voted Wednesday night to extend key parts of the controversial security law to 2011.

If the House approves the legislation as well, the Patriot Act — an omnibus security bill passed in the wake of 9/11 that civil libertarians argue amounts to a major roll-back of civil rights — will see three of its most controversial elements extended by a year.

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Those are the “roving wiretap” clause, used to monitor mobile communications of individuals using multiple telephone lines; the “lone-wolf” provision, which enables spying on individuals suspected of terrorist activity but with no obvious connection to extremist groups; and the controversial section 215, known as the “library records provision” that allows government agencies to access an individual’s library history.

The Patriot Act provisions are set to expire on Sunday.

Senate Democrats had hoped to insert privacy safeguards into the law before passing the extension, but couldn’t overcome a Republican filibuster.

The Associated Press describes the vote as “a political victory for Republicans.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he would have “preferred to add oversight and judicial review improvements to any extension of expiring provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act.”

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“A bipartisan majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced compromise legislation to the full Senate for consideration more than four months ago. … The USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act should be an example of what Democrats and Republicans can accomplish when we work together but I understand some Republican Senators objected to passing the carefully crafted national security, oversight, and judicial review provisions in this legislation.”

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Obama draws straight line from ‘birther’ paranoia to the rise of Trumpism: analysis

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On Saturday, writing for The Intercept, Murtaza Hussain broke down how former President Barack Obama's new book connects the dots directly between the racist "birther" conspiracy theories surrounding his presidency, and the rise of the political movement surrounding Donald Trump.

"Obama does not spend much time directly discussing his experience of race while in office, but, to the extent that he does, he makes a convincing case that the anti-intellectual populist movement now known as Trumpism began in part as a racial backlash to his own presidency — specifically, Trump’s conspiratorial campaign to establish that Obama had been born in a foreign country and was thus ineligible to hold office," wrote Hussain.

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2020 Election

Here’s what Trump could do to tank the economy out of pure vengeance

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Less than a week before the 2020 election, I interviewed a number of psychologists who speculated that if President Donald Trump lost to former Vice President Joe Biden, his narcissism might cause him to lash out by deliberately tanking the economy. Now it seems like that prediction might have been correct — although the reasons may have as much to do with the Republican Party's longstanding traditions as Trump's individual flaws.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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Anti-vax groups online are helping to radicalize the QAnon movement

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The alliance between anti-vaxxers and QAnon followers is rapidly increasing as they continue their efforts to spread massive amounts of disturbing misinformation amid the pandemic. One glaring example centers around one incident that occurred last week.

Facebook opted to nix a massive anti-vaccination propaganda group with more than 200,000 members last week. However, the group was not shut down for the dangerous public health misinformation its members posted, but rather, the disturbing promotion of QAnon, reports Huffington Post.

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