Democrats continued their political agenda of retreating under fire Wednesday by agreeing to back down on proposals to implement new privacy protections in the controversial USA Patriot Act, choosing instead to extend the current law for another year without change.
Senate Democratic Leaders scrapped new curbs on privacy abuse and caved in to Republican pressure to keep the law as it is even though privacy experts say the Patriot Act allows the government to snoop at will into the lives of Americans.
“The Democratic retreat is an important political victory for Republicans, who gained new ammunition for their election theme that the GOP can better protect America,” writes Larry Margasak of the Associated Press.
The USA Patriot Act was passed in haste by a shell-shocked Congress in the weeks following the 9/11 terror attacks and has come under fire from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for failing to protect the privacy of Americans while giving the government broad powers to spy on its citizens.
In October 2009 the Senate Judiciary Committee approved new restrictions and increased oversight but those curbs were ignored in the voice vote to extend the act. With the current law expiring Sunday, the bill goes to the House with little chance for change.
- Senate votes to extend USA Patriot Act for 1 year (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- American Civil Liberties Union : Senate Committee Passes Patriot Act Reauthorization Bill (gloucestercitynews.net)
- ACLU: Curb FBI’s Power (techdailydose.nationaljournal.com)
- Lawmakers Cave to FBI in Patriot Act Debate (wired.com)