S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

House Committee Considers PATRIOT Reform | Electronic Frontier Foundation

The House Judiciary Committee has recessed its meeting to "mark-up" Chairman Conyers' PATRIOT renewal and reform bill, the USA Patriot Amendments Act of 2009 (HR 3845), so that the committee members can attend a vote on the House floor. We don't know when they'll be back — we'll try to tweet via @EFF if and when they do return — but in the meantime, here are the major developments that you missed if you weren't watching the live webcast. Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute also has a great blow-by-blow with characteristic snark via @Normative.
The mark-up got off to a somewhat worrisome start when Chairman Conyers introduced a "manager's amendment" making numerous changes to the bill to address concerns raised by the Obama Administration about some of the bill's reforms. We have a copy of the amendment and a description of the changes it makes to the bill. Based on a very quick review, most of the changes seem relatively minor, but they are definitely not an improvement from a civil liberties perspective. So, once again, the Obama Administration is quietly working to stop reforms to the PATRIOT Act even though Senator Obama was one of the PATRIOT Act's staunchest critics.
We're not out of the woods on this, by any means. Three elements of the Patriot Act were due to sunset. The Committee is marking up the bill this week, and their work bears close watching. The Committee reconvene's at 10:00 ET on Thursday to continue its work.

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