With the final version of Patriot Act renewal legislation expected to reach Congress this week, the big news remains the newly vocal support of the business community for reform. (See the AP story here.)
Many editorial boards also continue to call for preservation of the Senate version’s improvements. The Chicago Sun-Times has the following prescription:
In approaching the sunset of certain sections of the Patriot Act, the Senate has voted in favor of changes that would require the FBI to make a stronger case for drawing on these special powers. The House has voted to keep in place most of the original package. When members of both chambers meet to reconcile their bills, possibly during the next week, we can only hope most of the safeguards proposed by the Senate — which, in the end, are rather modest — make it into the final version.
And the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer has this to say about the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear an emergency appeal from the American Library Association in the ongoing case challenging the Patriot Act’s national security letter provision:
A Connecticut-based American Library Association member organization has asked to be a part of the congressional debate about extension of the Patriot Act. But an opinion issued last week by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says the ALA’s participation in debate about the Patriot Act might be against the law.
The Patriot Act.
Let’s put it another way: The ALA has concerns not just about the Patriot Act’s authority to monitor people’s library activity, but also about the provision that talking about such surveillance — including, it would seem, discussing the issue in congressional debate over the Patriot Act — is against the law.
The Patriot Act.
No, the above is not a passage from Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22,” though it wouldn’t be out of place there. But it is a compelling argument for why government power demands at least as much of that proverbial “eternal vigilance” as any foreign threat. When pointing out problems with a law violates the law whose problems you’re pointing out… well, there’s a problem.
To read more about the ALA’s Patriot Act efforts, go here.