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Mitch McConnell Scrambling To Let Obama Keep Failed Snooping Powers

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Yesterday, just after Sen. Rand Paul ended his “minibuster” against renewal of the Patriot Act’s controversial Section 215 bulk data collection program, our friend Maggie Ybarra of The Washington Times reported that Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz of the Justice Department said in a newly released report that, between 2004 and 2009, the FBI tripled its use of bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

But, said Horowitz, FBI agents can’t point to any major terrorism cases they’ve cracked thanks to the snooping powers in the Patriot Act, which allows government agents to compel businesses to turn over records and documents, and increasingly scoops up records of Americans who had no ties to official terrorism investigations.

The FBI has finally come up with procedures to try to minimize the information it gathers on nontargets, but it took far too long, Mr. Horowitz admitted in the report.

Backers say the Patriot Act powers are critical and must be kept intact, particularly with the spread of the threat from terrorists. But opponents have doubted the efficacy of Section 215, particularly when it’s used to justify bulk data collection such as in the case of the National Security Agency’s phone metadata program, noted Ms. Ybarra in her coverage of the report (link at the end of this article).

However, despite the overwhelming body of testimony that the Patriot Act’s snooping powers have been misused and have not resulted in cracking any major terrorism cases some establishment Republicans, such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and South Carolina RINO Lindsey Graham insist on trying to preserve the program unchanged.

And now they are scrambling to figure out a way to bend the Constitution even further now that the House has left town for the Memorial Day recess after passing a version of Senator Mike Lee’s USA Freedom Act, not the “clean” extension of the Patriot Act favored by McConnell, Rubio and Graham.

Senate GOP leaders have their backs up against the wall because the three provisions of the Patriot Act to which constitutionalists and civil libertarians most object expire on June 1, the same day the House returns from its Memorial Day break.

“There’s a lot of moving parts right now,” The Hill’s Julian Hattem reports Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) said on Thursday, after a 10.5-hour floor speech from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) stretched late into the night. “I don’t think everybody's locked in.”

Hattem’s reporting claims Democrats appear united in support of the USA Freedom Act, a version of which has already passed the House, after Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) reportedly said that he would support the bill on Thursday.

At least a half-dozen Republicans are also sure bets to vote for it, and multiple others have signaled that they are undecided.

Hattem also reports Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), one of the Republican co-sponsors of the USA Freedom Act says the USA Freedom Act’s prospects look good in the Senate, “I think they’re open,” said Sen. Heller. “I’ve talked to several of my colleagues that will give USA Freedom Act a shot. They’ll support it.”

“But they’re also in support of a two-month extension,” he added. “Reasonable people want to solve the problem.”

But Mitch McConnell is not “reasonable people.”

McConnell has scheduled a vote for that bill on Saturday. If it fails — as he expects — the chamber will then vote on a two-month extension of current law, to give lawmakers time to work out their differences.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a supporter of McConnell’s strategy, said that House leaders were bluffing.

“The biggest mistake you can make is to take somebody at face value up here,” he said on Thursday. “If the best we can work out this weekend is an extension — a short-term extension — I think the House would go along with that in an effort to try to get a win-win.”

Win-win?

A win for Big Brother and the all-knowing security state maybe, but we don’t see the win for liberty under the Constitution in a “clean” extension of the Patriot Act, and the USA Freedom Act, while it includes some good ideas, as it stands now also fails that test.

We’re with Maggie Ybarra on this one. In Ybarra’s analysis Mitch McConnell is counting on his opponents not being able to muster the 60 votes needed to pass the USA Freedom Act, leaving them with the choice of either extending Section 215 or seeing all of the powers expire — including those that would go after specific terrorist suspects. McConnell cynically believes that, faced with that choice, enough of his colleagues will vote to extend all of the powers.

We urge you to contact your Senators and urge them to join Senator Rand Paul in supporting the Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act as an alternative to the reauthorization of the Patriot Act. The Capitol switchboard is 1-866-220-0044, call your Senator today.

To read Maggie Ybarra’s Washington Times article “FBI admits no major cases cracked with Patriot Act snooping powers“ click the link.

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McCONNELL'S RINO WAYS

This house leader is another BFF lib runaway, he has no intention of remembering he works as a Republican for the party of R's, his acts on this Patriot Act dual and his wanting to let this illegal in our WH make horribly inept treaty decisions can only mean he has been bought and paid for by the left....Say goodbye Mitch.....

Patriot Act

The whole blamed act should die and it should be disected and the few good parts should be taken and placed into a new and Constitutional bill to be passed Constitutionally by the House and the Senate and signed by our sad excuse for a President.