[crossposting for once FROM DailyKos and not to it...first time on the recommend list!]
RawStory is publishing an exclusive* that claims Sen Min Leader Reid will vote against cloture on the current PATRIOT USA Act agreement, effectively vowing to filibuster the bill:
Reid has told aides he will vote against cloture -- a Senate procedure which requires that 60 senators support a bill being brought before the Senate before it is brought to a final vote. In essence, voting against cloture means supporting a filibuster.
"Senator Reid has several concerns including the National Security letters, the library provision, and some of the habeas corpus aspects which have nothing to do with terrorism," an aide told RAW STORY.
Interesting to note that last line on habeas corpus--the current version of the bill already reflects some compromise between Lindsey Graham and Carl Levin, but still runs to the right of the Bingaman amendment largely restoring HC rights to Guantanamo prisoners. (If you recall, Oregon's Ron Wyden initially voted for the Graham bill restricting HC rights, but then voted for both the Bingaman and Graham/Levin bills after many of us pitched a fit. Much in the way that a subsequent defensive 3-and-out saves the cheese of a QB who turns the ball over, Reid may end up sparing Wyden lasting harm from his bizarre lapse.)
But in any case, whenever the party leader in one of the chambers signs on to blocking a bill, that's pretty big news. Reid continues to impress, picking battles that are both important and winnable.
Fresh from Sen Wyden's office, his statement on joining Reid and Feingold (and apparently Obama, Kerry and Republican Hagel) in opposing cloture:
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today announced his intention to vote against and support efforts to filibuster the conference report reauthorizing the USA Patriot Act, citing concerns about numerous provisions that could compromise Americans’ privacy rights that would be made permanent under the legislation. Specifically, Wyden announced his intention today to oppose the legislation because it does not include sunsets for controversial powers and diminishes congressional oversight over the government’s use of these powers.
“The current version of the report strikes the wrong balance between security and civil liberties and leaves Congress with inadequate oversight,” said Wyden. “Just as troubling is the inclusion of new language that will make it much more difficult for law-abiding Americans to defend themselves from possible Patriot Act abuses. These unjustified changes do not make the Patriot Act a more effective tool for fighting terrorism and in fact, make it more susceptible to abuse. I will vote against the current version of the legislation and support efforts to block its passage.”
Specifically, Wyden cited strong concerns over a number of provisions contained in the conference report that would significantly compromise the privacy rights of law-abiding U.S. citizens. These specific provisions include:
· A provision that makes permanent the ability of FBI agents to issue National Security Letters (NSL), or documents issued without the approval of a judge or grand jury, which allows the government to obtain sensitive personal information about law-abiding U.S. citizens;
· A requirement that requires anyone who receives a NSL to notify the FBI if s/he consults with an attorney and to identify the attorney to the FBI, potentially resulting in a significant blow to the right to counsel, something that exists nowhere else in law;
· A provision to impose criminal penalties on a NSL recipient who speaks out in violation of a NSL gag order, even if s/he believes his rights have been violated;
· A measure that fails to require a roving wiretap includes sufficient information to describe in detail the specific person to be wiretapped.
While Wyden is an original co-sponsor of the Combat Met Act that was attached to conference report, he expressed his disappointment that this legislation was attached to the controversial PATRIOT Act.
“As a cosponsor of the combat meth legislation, I am disappointed by the politicization of the meth tragedy in this fashion,” said Wyden. “I will continue to fight for the passage of the meth bill but not as a part of this badly flawed legislation.”
*Andrew at NPI points out that while this is good news, it's also hardly an exclusive if Reid told AP about it last night. So take 'exclusive' with a grain of salt.