Once a highly vocal critic of the Bush-era USA PATRIOT Act, President Obama has quietly reversed his position. In September, the president urged Congress to reauthorize the counterterrorism law, angering the American Civil Liberties Union and other left-wing groups who were none too happy when the administration argued in court that a lawsuit on the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program should be thrown out on the grounds that state secrets would be revealed. Sounds just like W.
One explanation for Obama’s abrupt change of heart: a dawning realization that it’s up to him to thwart any future terrorist attacks. Let’s just say the president appears to be growing in his job.
Meanwhile, Congressional Democrats announced plans to temporarily extend the 2001 law, which expires at the end of this year. Politico reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected a Senate plan to amend the PATRIOT Act as part of a must-pass Pentagon funding bill.
The 60-day reprieve temporarily leaves intact three of the bill’s most controversial provisions which allow the federal government to collect personal information on national security targets, use roving wiretaps to track suspects, and keep tabs on “lone wolves” suspected of working for foreign governments or terrorist organizations.