BATFE Director now needs Senate Confirmation:

If I were in Congress, I would have voted against the Patriot Act and its re-authorization. Although the Act does provide important anti-terrorist tools, I believe it is extremely overbroad, in part because so many of the special anti-terrorism powers are not limited anti-terrorism, but can be used to enforce any federal law. But one of the civil liberties improvements in the revised Patriot Act is contained in section 504. That section changes 6 U.S.C. 531(a)(2), so that the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive now requires Senate confirmation of his or her appointment. Even if BATFE did not have a troubled history on civil liberties issues (some of which is detailed in my book No More Wacos: What's Wrong with Federal Law Enforcement and How to Fix It), it makes sense for the head of any major federal law enforcement agency to be subject to the checks and balances of Senate confirmation.

zev (www):

If I were in Congress, I would have voted against the Patriot Act and its re-authorization.

So far, so good. If only the electoral / political process selected for ability to make, and act on, cogent policy arguments...
3.8.2006 9:32pm
Heaven knows what manner of mischief such powers will wreak in the hands of future administrations! For all of the histrioinics about us being at war vs terror ... To me, it's quite instructive that Israel and the IRA-era United Kingdom survived quite nicely in the face of FAR greater terrorism problems, without having to hoist onto their populations most of these 'absolute necessities' that have been codified into the Partiot Act and its sequel!
3.8.2006 9:50pm
This is a very needed move. The BATFE needs much oversight. If I were in Congress I would get rid of most the gun laws so this Alphabet Division would be very small.... The UK did not need to pass many new laws because they already would be considered WAY to heavy handed in the civil liberities dept. compared to the US. Israel I don't know much about their laws. Would you really want to live with UK free speech rights much less their non-existant firearms rights or even their just barely right to spit in a criminals eye. Oh wait that might be considered assault of the guy who just robbed or murdered your family member.
3.8.2006 10:21pm

Is that a joke? The UK and Israel have both had policies that go far beyond the PATRIOT Act for decades.
3.9.2006 12:08am
k parker (mail):

Yankee_Mark can't write what he really thinks because of the CCTV camera that's monitoring him. Or something like that...
3.9.2006 4:06am
Seems to me the Israeli government does not toss its own citizens into catch-22 limbo without judicial review nor any manner of due process and finds its criminal justice system to be sufficient for dealing with terrorism issues.

It's not a the most sympathetic judiciary, but at least citizens do get their day in court and a second set of eyes on their situations. Nor am I saying that their system is perfect, or better in all regards than ours ...

But even Ariel Sharon has not claimed to have the kind of unreviewable God-like powers that George W asserts and the Patriot Act conferrs upon the Executive and their Terrorism problem is undeniably worse than what we have.
3.9.2006 8:56am
SG (mail):
I'm always intrigued by the generalized complaints about the Patriot Act. It's a set of actual reforms. Which reforms, specifically, do people object to and why? Which reforms is it, exactly, that leave US citizens in "catch-22 limbo without judicial review nor any manner of due process"? I don't think you'll find them in the Patriot Act. The detentions of Padilla, etc are not done pursuant to the Patriot Act, but based on an interpretation of how to treat people classified as "enemy combatants." You may disagree with how that's done -- and there are a lot of questions that should be asked about it -- but it's not due to the Patriot Act.

Another common complaint is that Patriot Act powers are being used in non-terrorism cases. I'd be interested to hear specific examples of this and why in those specific instances the Government conduct was/is objectionable.
3.9.2006 11:34am
The Yid:
Let's see:

Israel and Britain both use

1. Preventive detention with minimal or no judical review.
2. Warrantless electronic surveillance

It's one thing to argue that the US doesn't need to take measures that are routine in other democratic countries. It's another thing to gt the comparison wrong int he first place.
3.10.2006 12:58am