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February 11, 2006
Rising From The Dead

The Patriot Act appears headed for an easy renewal after the White House and Senate Republicans reached a compromise on a few minor tweaks to aasuage civil-liberties concerns. House Speaker Denny Hastert signaled that the House would back the new version, and even the man who bragged that he'd killed the law said he'd now vote for it:

Legislation to renew the anti-terror Patriot Act was cleared for final congressional passage Friday when House Speaker Dennis Hastert blessed a day-old compromise between the White House and Senate Republicans.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid also indicated he will vote for the bill when it comes to a vote, possibly next week.

The legislation gives federal agents expanded powers to investigate suspected terrorists in the United States, and the Bush administration has said it is one of the key weapons in the war on terror. ...

The changes, worked out over several weeks of talks, specifically with the office of White House counsel Harriet Miers, covered three main areas:

* Under the first, recipients of court-approved subpoenas for information in terrorist investigations would have the right to challenge a requirement that they refrain from telling anyone.

* The second removes a requirement that an individual provide the FBI with the name of an attorney consulted about a National Security Letter, which is a demand for records issued by administrators.

* The third clarifies that most libraries are not subject to National Security Letter demands for information about suspected terrorists.

Reid and California Senator Dianne Feinstein both indicated that they would now vote for this bill, a far cry from two months ago when the Minority Leader crowed to the press about his role in killing the extension. He tried to explain himself away in a Fox News appearance shortly afterward as nothing more than an attempt to extend the debate and blamed the administration for not agreeing to a three-month extension. But that doesn't undo the image of Reid grinning from ear to ear, taking credit for "killing" legislation that most Americans support as a key component of our national defense. It's the same tin-eared approach that Reid has used on judicial confirmations, and all it does is point out how out of touch Reid and the Democratic leadership has become with the American people.

Now with these minor changes, Reid meekly declares his support -- but the obstructionism that he fostered on national defense still lives on. Presidential candidate Russ Feingold of Wisconsin has declared himself opposed to the compromise and wants to filibuster the Patriot Act again. He may garner a significant amount of his caucus to support him, although with Reid and Feinstein already pledged to support the bill, the filibuster has little chance of success. It will, however, once more solidify the image of Democrats as completely irresponsible demogagues on national security.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 11, 2006 10:15 AM

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