Thursday, October 8, 2009

Franken Votes for Patriot Act Renewal

God Damn It

The Leahy-Feinstein substitute bill I discussed in my piece this morning about the USA PATRIOT Act was just approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee 13-8, with only minor word changes.

Amendments proposed by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) that would have required that the target of a National Security Letter have some alleged connection to terrorism, and by Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) that would have eliminated the “lone wolf” provision that allows surveillance of suspects with no suspected link to a known foreign terrorist organization, were defeated.
Much of the justification cited by Senators who supported the broad surveillance powers contained in the bill was based on classified briefings from the FBI and Justice Department. Feingold, who drew different conclusions from those briefings, lamented that the information about how the Patriot Act has been used remains classified.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who in the past has expressed concerns that parts of the Patriot Act violate the Fourth Amendment’s “search and seizure” clause, didn’t say a word at the markup session. He voted in favor of the Leahy-Feinstein bill renewing the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act.

Update: Here’s the final committee vote:

Aye: Kohl, Feinstein, Schumer, Cardin, Whitehouse, Klobuchar, Kaufman, Franken, Kyl, Cornyn

Nay: Feingold, Durbin, Specter, Sessions, Hatch, Grassley, Graham, Coburn