Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Bravo, Rand Paul

It appears that there is at least one member of the Senate willing to do something to try and prevent the extension of the Patriot Act without any attempt to improve its unconstitutional provisions — Rand Paul. And Harry Reid is hopping mad about it.

But Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a libertarian-leaning Republican elected last year, is blocking a hurry-up vote to do so. He wants the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, to first allow a vote on several proposed amendments, including a measure that would exempt gun records from being searched under the Patriot Act…

The standoff led to a harsh exchange Wednesday. Mr. Reid accused Mr. Paul of putting the country at risk with “political grandstanding.” Mr. Paul accused Mr. Reid of breaking a promise to allow a full debate over the Patriot Act, which he portrayed as a threat to constitutional rights.

“We don’t want our records to be sifted through by a government without judicial review,” Mr. Paul said. “They don’t want to vote on this because they know the American people agree with us.”

And the government is sternly warning of terrible consequences if they should lose these often abused powers for even a day or two:

If there is a lapse, a senior administration official said, the F.B.I. would be able to continue using orders it had already obtained, but it would not be able to apply for new ones if further tips and leads came in about a possible terrorist operation. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, reacted with alarm to that prospect, saying no one could predict what the consequences of a temporary lapse might be.

“This is unprecedented,” the official said. “We don’t believe the risk is worth it.”

OMG, we’re all going to die if the FBI has to get a warrant before searching through our phone records and emails! Unless, of course, they just get a warrant retroactively, as the FISA law allows them to do. It’s amazing, the law provides so little protection against the abuse of the power to search and seize, yet even those minimal safeguards are considered too much of a burden for the government.