On January 5th, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) introduced a bill to add yet another year to the soon to be expiring Patriot Act. This would extend it until February of 2012, and passage is likely to happen with little debate or contention. If passed, this would be the second time the Obama administration has punted on campaign promises to roll back excessive surveillance measures allowed under the act passed in the wake of 9/11.
When the Patriot Act was first signed in 2001, it was billed as a temporary measure required because of the extreme circumstances created by the terrorist threat. The fear from its opponents was that executive power, once given, is seldom relinquished. In retrospect, that fear appears well founded. Not only has Obama not given the power back, but he has continued to abuse it to spy on citizens without due process.
In 2007, candidate Obama said during his Presidency there would be “no more National Security Letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime” because “that is not who we are, and it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists.” The hope that he’ll make good on that statement is seeming pretty audacious.