Obama supports extending Patriot Act provisions
The Obama administration supports extending three key provisions of the Patriot Act that are due to expire at the end of the year, the Justice Department told Congress in a letter made public Tuesday.
Lawmakers and civil rights groups had been pressing the Democratic administration to say whether it wants to preserve the post-Sept. 11 law’s authority to access business records, as well as monitor so-called “lone wolf” terrorists and conduct roving wiretaps.
The lone wolf provision was created to conduct surveillance on suspects with no known link to foreign governments or terrorist groups. It has never been used, but the administration says it should still be available for future investigations.
The roving wiretaps provision was designed to allow investigators to quickly monitor the communications of a suspects who change their cell phone or communication device, without investigators having to go back to court for a new court authorization. That provision has been used an average of 22 times a year, officials said.
So the Obama Administration is leaving some of the more loathsome aspects of the Patriot Act in place “for future investigations.” That’s another way of saying that the Patriot Act is, more or less, here to stay.
And it’s not getting any better on the foreign front, either:
About 3,000 additional troops are headed to Afghanistan — but not as part of any new request from the top U.S. commander there, a senior defense official said Monday.
The troops are what the military calls “combat enablers” — noncombat troops who specialize in areas such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; explosives ordnance disposal; medical and mental health; and personnel administration. They will deploy in team-sized elements as opposed to larger units, according to the official, who asked not to be identified.
About 1,000 such troops also will deploy to Iraq, the official said, adding that both groups are being sent in response to existing requests by the theater commanders in Afghanistan and Iraq.
These soldiers, er, excuse me, combat enablers, are being sent in addition to whatever troop increases our current incarnation of William Westmoreland — Stanley McChrystal — is almost certainly going to request (and get).
There’s to be no public option on healthcare, and last Saturday the New York Times reported that little has changed on Wall Street in the year since Lehman Brothers collapsed.
The good new is that the recession is over; the bad news is that we’re in a ‘jobless recovery.’ That’s another way of saying that ordinary working schlubs like you and me won’t notice any improvement, which is another way of saying that for ordinary schlubs like you and me there hasn’t been any improvement.
But the news today will be that Obama called Kanye West a jackass, and all the manicured fowl in the mainstream media will cluck cluck cluck about it as if it’s the most portentous scandal since Janet Jackson showed a boob at the Superbowl.
I think this is what court historians of the David McCullough/Arthur Schlesinger Jr. school mean when they praise the continuity or ‘fundamental stability’ of the American political system.