Thursday, May 26, 2011

Today, I'm Thankful for Rand Paul

Last night, I probably caused my Democratic friends some consternation when I reminded them that redistricting probably wouldn't make it easier for them to increase their numbers in the South Dakota legislature.  This title of this post probably caused more consternation.

Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican and son of Republican presidential candidate Ron Raul. is trying limit the ill-named Patriot Act.  The Los Angeles Times sums up the situation:
The bill would extend three expiring provisions of the act, including one that allows federal authorities to continue eavesdropping when terrorism suspects change phones and another that allows surveillance of foreign suspects even if they have no known affiliation to a terrorist group, called the "lone wolf" provision. A third allows the government to investigate virtually any personal records of terrorism suspects, in what has become known as the library records provision. All require a court order.

Paul wants to offer amendments to rein in the government’s reach, including one that would prohibit federal authorities from investigating gun ownership records.
According to Politico,
Freshman Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a vocal critic of the counter-terrorism surveillance law, threatened Monday to “drag out” the process if Reid fails to hold votes on some of the nine amendments Paul introduced or co-sponsored on Monday. Paul, a libertarian-minded tea-party senator, noted that Reid had promised earlier this year to set aside a week’s worth of debate on the bill and allow votes on amendments.
Politico goes on to explain that Paul doesn't have the votes to stop re-authorization, just delay votes.  Paul claims wants votes on amendments he sponsored.
One of Paul’s proposed amendments, backed by Gun Owners of America, would block law enforcement officials from being able to access certain firearm records under the Patriot Act. An amendment, authored by liberal Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and co-sponsored by Paul, calls for greater oversight of Patriot Act provisions and adds new sunsets to surveillance tools known as National Security Letters.
Glenn Greenwald adds a few other names who deserve a thank you for voting against cloture and ending the filibuster.
The 8 Senators voting against cloture were Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, Democrats Jeff Merkley, Mark Begich, Max Baucus, and John Tester, and GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski, Rand Paul, and Dean Heller (GOP Sen. Mike Lee announced he'd vote NO but missed the vote due to inclement weather).  Sen. Paul, along with Sen. Tester, took the lead in speaking out against the excesses and abuses of the Patriot Act and the vital need for reforms.
I'm not saying Americans don't need to fight terrorism, but the Patriot unconstitutionally abridges liberties.  This editorial sums things up better than I can.
Fighting terrorism requires active and watchful intelligence gathering. But this battle can't be an excuse for erasing privacy and personal liberties. The Patriot Act goes too far in a constitutional society by erasing bedrock guarantees of privacy and personal protections.

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