Patriot Act Renewal:
The House passed the Patriot Act renewal bill today by a vote of 280 to 138. President Bush will sign the bill tomorrow.

  For the last few months, the debate over the Patriot Act has been over really small potatoes. To use a football analogy, the players were battling over inches instead of yards. But then everything associated with the Patriot Act tends to have a larger-than-life political significance. "Dog bites man" isn't a story, but "Patriot Act lets dog bite man" always gets splashed across the front page.

  In any event, I haven't seen the latest text, but I'll blog on the details after I do.
Why does the PATRIOT Act even matter? Bush has already announced that he doesn't feel bound by its guarantees and is willing to wiretap and do any other "incidents of war" regardless of what Congress says.

3.8.2006 7:50pm
I have to agree with Dave here, and add that the U SAP A TRIOT Act is nothing compared to Bush's belief that he can take me to Gitmo, hold me for as long as he likes, and torture me without review by any court.
3.8.2006 7:58pm
TJIT (mail):
It matters because Bush will eventually go but the Patriot act stays.
3.8.2006 8:03pm
TJIT, I guess that depends on how long the PATRIOT Act is renewed for and whether or not Pejman Yousefzadeh has his way with the 22nd Amendment.

3.8.2006 8:12pm
SteveMG (mail):
It matters because Bush will eventually go

Ah, but the next President - Democrat or Republican - will also claim that the Commander in Chief has inherent and plenary powers to gather foreign intelligence.

Any wagers?

3.8.2006 8:19pm

the next President - Democrat or Republican - will also claim that the Commander in Chief has inherent and plenary powers to gather foreign intelligence.

I agree. But how much does it matter if the next President doesn't claim this? Won't the subsequent President just claim that this (succeeding) President didn't choose to exercise authority that he had?

Rather than looking at the person occupying the Executive to pronounce/renounce power, we need to look at how much power the Legislature takes. (I will note that they don't seem hesitant to take on the Judiciary. Sort of like Ron Artest thinking twice about taking on Ben Wallance, but running full-steam up in the stands to take on a fan.)

Tangentially, another illustration of how the party system screws up checks and balances: rather than the Legislature investigating possible Executive overstepping on wiretaps, they're going to select 7 more people to be briefed. Reason: party protects itself.
3.8.2006 9:23pm
TJIT (mail):
I suspect the Patriot act will be used in a broad way that one president would not be able to. For example note the combat meth act provisions that were inserted into the patriot act.
3.8.2006 9:45pm
Wassamatter TJ, didn't you get the memo that says we're also in a war on drugs? The local pusher is clearly an unlawful combatant and not entitled to Geneva Convention protections, unless you're one of those softies who thinks the war on drugs is a law enforcement issue ... we're at WAR man!
3.8.2006 9:55pm
Mr. X (www):
Professor Kerr,
Can you comment on the financial privacy provisions that were enacted, specifically how they've been used in such a way that persons paying off a credit card have their transaction routed through the Department of Homeland Security to be investigated (any transaction over $3,000 if it's out of pattern)? This Know Your Customer stuff was quashed the year prior to the WTC attacks, but then folded into the Patriot Act and passed.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...a bit miffed...
3.8.2006 9:58pm
I'll tell ya what Mr X ... when my Dad passed away a couple years ago, it resulted in a decent number of uncharacteristically large financial transactions after things cleared probate, and I was beset by post-9/11 filings & funds accessibility delays that I had not been aware of beforehand. *sigh* It'll be ... unamusing to say the least if Patriot II ends-up bringing-on more of the same, eh!
3.8.2006 10:15pm
Wintermute (www):
What was the vote on the original Act? I bet this vote shows serious slippage.
3.9.2006 5:37am