Saturday, February 19, 2011

House extends shredding of citizens rights. Battle moves to the Senate.

UPDATE: The Senate has passed a 3 month extension of the Patriot Act (the House extension is until Dec. 8th) with a Judiciary Committee hearing on S. 193 expected soon, according to a report by the <a href="http://epic.org/2011/02/senate-house-pass-limited-patr.html" target="blank">Electronic Privacy Information Center</a> (EPIC>.

On Valentines Day members of the House of Representatives showed their love for their constitutents by passing the Patriot Act extension. I talked last week about the reasons to let the Patriot Act expire. The Patriot Act is too open ended and gives the government too much power to spy on people - citizens and non-citizens without verifiable reason. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) the justification for last years extension by claiming a need to study proposed changes. But this years extension was passed without hearing or amendments, or apparently any reason given for not allowing discussion before the vote.

The House has passed the extension, but it still has to get through the Senate. The EFF reports that there are three Patriot Bills that could go to the floor - unless the Senate leadership chooses to put the House bill on the floor for a vote. All of these bills extend the Patriot Act, but only S.193 contains changes to provide oversight and accountability for the governments use of Patriot Act powers. The American Library Association supports S.193, which is a plus. The ALA has been fighting for stronger protections from the Patriot Act almost since it's inception. It also has the support of:

It's time to contact your senator. The senate website is here. There is a pull down menu in the upper right corner to get your senators contact information. If you're in Texas, I'll make it easy for you:

Cornyn, John - (R - TX) 517 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-2934

Hutchison, Kay Bailey - (R - TX) Class I 284 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 (202) 224-5922

Tell your Senator not to extend the Patriot Act. Or if they feel it must be extended, the bill to back is S.193.