Senator Diane Feinstein and the Patriot Act

It’s still not clear to me if California Senator Diane Feinstein fully comprehends the danger she and her colleagues are facing from the various sneaky and not so sneaky power grabs that have been going on during the past years.

She does appear to be aroused from her slumber by the firing of the United States Attorneys, but from her explanation, it doesn’t sound as if she was really on top of things.

“How did all of this happen? This is an interesting story. Apparently, (italics added) when Congress reauthorized the PATRIOT Act last year, a provision was included that modified the statute that determines how long interim appointments are made. The PATRIOT Act Reauthorization changed the law to allow interim appointments to serve indefinitely rather than for a limited 120 days. Prior to the PATRIOT Act Reauthorization and the 1986 law, when a vacancy arose, the court nominated an interim U.S. Attorney until the Senate confirmed a Presidential nominee. The PATRIOT Act Reauthorization in 2006 removed the 120-day limit on that appointment, so now the Attorney General can nominate someone who goes in without any confirmation hearing by this Senate and serve as U.S. Attorney for the remainder of the President’s term in office. This is a way, simply stated, of avoiding a Senate confirmation of a U.S. Attorney.”

Apparently?

Apparently Senator Feinstein doesn’t read the statues before she votes.

On the bright side, she does seem to have some dim awareness that this was a power grab.

I guess it’s a baby steps kind of thing with her.

In the past, Senator Feinstein has been one of President Bush’s enablers as they team up to violate American’s civil rights.

“President Bush urged Congress on Thursday to renew the USA Patriot Act, which he called an invaluable tool in the war on terrorism, and cited the support of California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein as evidence the 4-year-old law has not led to violations of civil liberties.” (Source)

Senator Feinstein had this to say about the ACLU’s concerns about the Patriot Act.

“As part of my effort to oversee the
implementation of the USA-Patriot Act, I asked the ACLU, in a letter
dated March 25, 2005, to provide an update of their October 2003
statement that they did not know of any abuses of the USA-Patriot Act.
             

On
April 4, 2005, the ACLU published a reply to my letter, in which they
listed what they described as ‘abuses and misuses’ of the Act. I
carefully reviewed each of the examples provided in the letter. I also
reviewed information provided to me by the Department of Justice about
each of the examples. And while I understand the concerns raised by the
ACLU, it does not appear that these charges rose to the level of
‘abuse’ of the Patriot Act." (Source)

In fact, Senator Feinstein was so pleased with the Patriot Act that she used it as a vehicle for her anti-drug bill that makes it harder for people to purchase cold medicine. She attached her bill onto the reauthorization of the Patriot Act.

“The finish line is in sight,” Senator Feinstein said.  “With
this agreement on the Patriot Act, Congress is but a step away from
passing the most significant anti-meth bill in a decade.  The heart of
this legislation is a strong standard for keeping pseudophedrine
products out of the hands of meth cooks. This includes a limit on how
much cold medicine with pseudophedrine can be purchased both daily and
monthly, moving these products behind the counter and requiring purchasers to show identification and sign a log book.  We’re close.  Now we’ve got to finish the job.” (Source)

I could be wrong, but if you have to send a letter to the ACLU and check with the Justice Department to see  if a law is being abused, or if you suspect there might be a problem with a piece of legislation, it might not be the best thing to use that same law to pass your pet legislation.

Isn’t time to fix the Senate rules so that Senators can’t tack totally unrelated bills onto pending legislation?

Just a thought.

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