Senator Russ Feingold
On the Patriot Act Deal (Cont'd)
Wed Feb 15, 2006 23:20

But, Mr. President, adding sunsets and new reporting and oversight requirements only gets you so far. The conference report, as it would be modified by S. 2271, remains deeply flawed. I appreciate sunsets and reporting, and I know that the senior Senator from Pennsylvania worked hard to ensure they were included, but these improvements are not enough. Sunsetting bad law in another four years is not good enough. Simply requiring reporting on the government’s use of these overly expansive tools does not ensure that they won’t be abused. We must make substantive changes to the law, not just improve oversight. This is our chance, and we cannot let it pass by.

Mr. President, trust of government cannot be demanded, or asserted, or assumed; it must be earned. And this Administration has not earned our trust. It has fought reasonable safeguards for constitutional freedoms every step of the way. It has resisted congressional oversight and often misled the public about its use of the Patriot Act. We know now that it has even authorized illegal wiretaps and is making misleading legal arguments to try to justify them. We sunsetted 16 provisions of the original Patriot Act precisely so we could revisit them and make necessary changes – to make improvements based on the experience of four years with the Act, and with the careful deliberation and debate that, quite frankly, was missing four years ago. Well, Mr. President, this process of reauthorization has certainly generated debate, but if we pass the conference report, even with the few White House modifications, we will have wasted a lot of time and missed our opportunity to finally get it right.

The American people will not be happy with us for missing that chance. They will not accept our explanation that we decided to wait another four years before really addressing their concerns. It appears that is now an inevitable outcome. But I am prepared to keep fighting for as long as it takes to get this right. For now, I urge my colleagues to oppose the motion to proceed to this legislation to implement the White House deal. We can do better than these minor cosmetic changes.

I yield the floor.

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Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold on the Patriot Act Deal


Feingold Questions Administration's Domestic Spying Program

Read my Statement from the Senate Floor on the President's Warrantless Wiretapping Program

Senator Russ Feingold - Gonzeles

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