The U.S. House of Representatives failed to muster enough votes today to pass an extension of three key provisions of the Patriot Act. The final tally had 277 votes for the measure and 148 votes against it. A two-thirds majority was required for passage. Twenty-six Republicans and 122 Democrats voted against the measure. Sixty-seven Dems and 210 members of the GOP voted for it.
Surge Desk examines the three portions of the Patriot Act that groups as diverse as the ACLU and the tea party movement, to say nothing of so many members of Congress, found so objectionable.
1. FBI wiretaps
Opponents of this section of the Patriot Act argue that the federal government should not be authorized to use "roving wiretaps" because they are too expansive. Critics say that innocent people are swept up in investigations because the wiretaps are not limited to single devices owned by actual suspects.
Should the government be able to access "tangible" information such as business records and lists of what books you check out of the library when it conducts investigations related to terrorism? Not enough members of Congress agreed with that argument today.
3. Spying on individuals
The federal government reserves the power to go after individuals who are not known to be linked to any terrorist groups or cells in what is termed the "lone wolf" provision. In effect, opponents of this provision argue that this power gives the government the right to investigate people who have committed no crime.
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