House Votes To Extend Patriot Act After All

After failing to fast-track renewal of the Patriot Act, and with House tea partiers seeming to stand on principle, Republicans and their tea party allies voted to extend the act, after all.

On a largely party-line vote of 275-144 vote, the House sent the measure — a proposed nine-month renewal of three provisions set to expire in two weeks — to the Democratic-led Senate for consideration.

The action came a week after House Republican leaders failed to get the bill approved under a fast-track approach normally reserved for non-controversial issues.

One would think small government conservatives would oppose provisions that would:

…allow a roving wiretap on a terror suspect to monitor his conversations as he moves from phone to phone. That can be a useful tool, but the authorization is so broad that the government does not even have to specify the suspect’s name to get a warrant. The failure to provide a more narrow identification of the suspect is too lax and could lead to abuse.

…[allow] the government to examine library and bookstore records of suspects, along with hard drives, tax documents and gun records. Investigators are not required to show probable cause that the material is related to a terrorist investigation.

…[permit] surveillance of “lone wolf” suspects who may not be tied to recognized terror organizations, [which] is also overly broad but has never been used. Rather than renew it without debate, the government should explain whether it is really necessary.

Tea Partiers deserved plaudits for holding up the vote. They deserve hypocrisy awards for flip-flopping on the initial vote.

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