What: All Issues : Human Rights & Civil Liberties : Government Surveillance of Citizens : (S. 990) Final passage of legislation extending expiring provisions of a controversial government surveillance law known as the “Patriot Act” for four years. Those provisions included allowing the federal government to wiretap terrorism suspects, authorizing intelligence officials to conduct surveillance of individuals who are not known to be affiliated with terrorist groups (known as the “lone wolf” provision), and providing federal investigators—after receiving permission from a judge—with access to business and library records). (2011 senate Roll Call 84)
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(S. 990) Final passage of legislation extending expiring provisions of a controversial government surveillance law known as the “Patriot Act” for four years. Those provisions included allowing the federal government to wiretap terrorism suspects, authorizing intelligence officials to conduct surveillance of individuals who are not known to be affiliated with terrorist groups (known as the “lone wolf” provision), and providing federal investigators—after receiving permission from a judge—with access to business and library records).
senate Roll Call 84     May 26, 2011
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Loss

This was a vote on final passage of legislation extending expiring provisions of a controversial government surveillance law known as the “Patriot Act” for four years. Those provisions included allowing the federal government to wiretap terrorism suspects, authorizing intelligence officials to conduct surveillance of individuals who are not known to be affiliated with terrorist groups (known as the “lone wolf” provision), and providing federal investigators—after receiving permission from a judge—with access to business and library records).

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) supported the bill: “…Although the PATRIOT Act is not a perfect law, it provides our intelligence and law enforcement communities with crucial tools to keep our homeland safe and thwart terrorism….The raid that killed Osama bin Laden also yielded an enormous amount of new information that has spurred dozens of investigations yielding new leads every day. Without the PATRIOT Act, investigators would not have the tools they need to follow these new leads and disrupt terrorist plots, putting our national security at risk.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) also supported the bill: “…The PATRIOT Act has been an indispensable, life-saving tool for the law enforcement and intelligence communities that work tirelessly to protect our nation from terrorist attacks. In these dangerous times, the PATRIOT Act should give a little more peace of mind to millions of Americans and give those seeking to do us harm good reason to rethink their diabolical plans….While some may disagree on this issue, I simply cannot allow those tasked with protecting our people from being deprived of these vital, lawful means to help prevent an attack.”

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) opposed the bill: “I rise as well to express my opposition to the extension of the three most controversial provisions in the PATRIOT Act which are before us here today. The process by which we have considered these provisions has been rushed. I believe we have done a disservice to the American people by not having a fuller and more open debate about these provisions….I cannot support the extension of the provisions we are considering today without amendments to ensure there is a check on executive branch authority. I do not believe the Coloradans who sent me here to represent them would accept this extension either. Americans would be alarmed if they knew how this law is being carried out.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) also opposed the bill: “This ultimately boils down to whether we believe in the rule of law….We believe in the Constitution and the rule of law. When you need to protect the rule of law is when it is most unpopular. When everybody tells you that you are unpatriotic or you are for terrorism because you believe in the Constitution, that is when it is most precious, that is when it is that you need to stand up and say no. We can fight. We can preserve our freedoms. We are who we are because of our freedoms and our individual liberty. If we give that up, we are no different from those whom we oppose. Those who wish to destroy our country want to see us dissolved from within. We dissolve from within when we give up our liberties. We need to stand and be proud of the fact that in our country it is none of your darn business what we are reading. It is none of your business where we go to see a doctor, what movie we see, or what our magazines are. It is nobody's business here in Washington what we are doing. If they think it is the business of law enforcement, get a warrant. Prove to somebody--at least have one step that says that person is doing something suspicious.”

The Senate passed this bill by a vote of 72-23. Voting “yea” were 41 Republicans and 31 Democrats. 19 Democrats and 4 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the Senate passed legislation extending expiring provisions of a controversial government surveillance law known as the “Patriot Act” for four years. Shortly thereafter, the House passed this bill as well, thereby enabling President Obama to sign it into law.

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