Issue: H.R. 514 FISA Extensions Act of 2011.
Result: Passed in House 275 to 144, 14 not voting. Became Public Law No: 112-3 (signed by the President 2-25-11). GOP selected vote.
Bill Summary: Amends the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 to extend until December 8, 2011, provisions concerning roving electronic surveillance orders and requests for the production of business records and other tangible things.
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Analysis: In the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the Bush administration requested legislative authorization for unprecedented unconstitutional powers — aggressive wiretap authority, the ability to seize library and business records and wide-reaching surveillance power. Congress went along but excused the intrusion by including a sunset provision causing the authority to expire after a very limited time frame unless renewed.
As expected, each successive administration has insisted on renewal, and some politicians see an opportunity to make the unconstitutional grant of authority permanent. Although the House voted here to extend the authority until December, Senate Democrats insisted on a shorter three-month period to permit a more expansive debate on the Patriot Act’s future. The House went along on 2-17-11. President Obama signed the three-month measure into law (PL 112-3) on 2-25-11.
On May 26, both Houses voted to extend the expiring authority for four years. (See House Roll Call 376 and Senate Vote 84.)
With the Republicans willing to carry this measure against principled opposition within their own ranks, most big-government liberals among the House Democrats have chosen to posture as civil libertarians and join the principled opponents.
We have assigned (good vote) to the Noes and (bad vote) to the Ayes. (P = voted present; ? = not voting; blank = not listed on roll call.)
Several authoritative books document how proponents of Big Brother government made America vulnerable to a very real threat of terrorism, using the resulting catastrophes to advance totalitarian measures. In the 70s, for example, campaigns of the Left succeeded in stripping American of its multiple layers of decentralized internal security — state and congressional investigative committees, intelligence departments of major city police, and counter-intelligence departments of the various branches of the armed forces.
As a further reflection of the ulterior motives guiding those directing the war on terrorism, consider that the federal government has resisted using its constitutional authority to enforce our borders.
And, for decades, the Executive Branch bent over backwards to cover up the Soviet role in sponsoring the worldwide terrorist movement, while focusing exclusive public attention on the terrorist groups themselves. (See, for example, Claire Sterling, The Terror Network: The Secret War of International Terrorism (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston and Reader’s Digest Press, 1981.)