Senate Follows House In Extending Patriot Act Spy Provisions

Both of South Dakota’s Senators followed House member Kristi Noem and voted last night to extend  three controversial Patriot Act spy measures that were set to expire in a few weeks. Tim Johnson and John Thune concluded that our 4th Amendment wasn’t important and voted to allow our government to continue the following Constitutionally challenged activities:

• “Roving wiretap” provision that allows the FBI to obtain wiretaps from a secret intelligence court, known as the FISA court (for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), without identifying the target or what method of communication is to be tapped.

• The “lone wolf” measure allows FISA court warrants for the electronic monitoring of a person for whatever reason — even without showing that the suspect is an agent of a foreign power or a terrorist. The government has said it has never invoked that provision, but the Obama administration said it wanted to retain the authority to do so.

• The “business records” provision allows FISA court warrants for any type of record, from banking to library to medical, without the government having to declare that the information sought is connected to a terrorism or espionage investigation.

As for our fearless leader Barack Obama coming to the rescue by not signing this? Not going to happen as he is on record wanting these provisions extended as well.

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Throwing The Baby Out With The Bath Water?

I realize that political parties exist because of differing viewpoints on many issues but this is becoming ridiculous.

The US has had an arms reduction treaty in place with Russia effectively since the SALT I treaty in 1969. The latest of these treaties, SORT, is set to expire in 2012 so in 2009 the US and Russia negotiated the “New Start Treaty” to continue the process.

Congress has been debating the final approval of New Start since Obama signed it in April and like seemingly everything else that doesn’t involve bringing pork to South Dakota, our Senators line up on completely opposite ends of the debate.

Democrat Tim Johnson said he will vote for the New START treaty as an important part of national security. Without it, Johnson says U.S. has no inspectors in Russia.

Republican John Thune said on Sunday that he would vote against it because it doesn’t hold the Russians to a strict enough inspection program.

I am having a really hard time trying to understand Thune’s position as wouldn’t voting this down effectively replace the inspections called for in the treaty with nothing? That certainly doesn’t sound very strict to me. I would think having something in place that reduces both country’s ability to blow up the world from 15 times to only 10 and keeps verification procedures of some kind in place would be a whole lot better than having nothing at all.

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