, , , , ,

First they tried to hide it in the so-called “jobs bill.” Now the gutless wonders in the Senate are going to try and pass an extension of the Patriot Act by unanimous consent, meaning they don’t have to go on the record with a vote:

“Senate Democrats are pushing for a short-term extension of key provisions in the Patriot Act as part of a package of must-pass measures…Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is planning to ask for unanimous consent to pass an extension for a host of measures set to expire February 28, according to Senate sources.

The third provision allows the government to apply to a court for surveillance orders involving suspected “lone wolf” terrorists who do not necessarily have ties to a larger organization.”

The large package of bills includes a year-long extension of three provisions of the anti-terrorism law known a the Patriot Act, as well as extensions for expiring tax provisions, including unemployment insurance, COBRA, flood insurance, the law governing the highway trust fund, the federal flood insurance program and a measure governing satellite television signals.

…The first of the three expiring Patriot Act provisions provides the power to seek court orders for roving wiretaps on terrorism suspects who shift their modes of communication. A second allows the government to seek orders from a federal court for “any tangible thing” that is says is related to a terrorism investigation.

More on those expiring provisions:

The first…would allow a secret court to continue to permit “roving wiretaps” without the government identifying who is being targeted, or which specific phone lines or communication devices are to be monitored. What officials must do is assert that the target is an agent of a foreign power or a suspected terrorist.

Under the “lone wolf” statute, the U.S. may target for surveillance non-U.S. persons it believes are engaging in terrorism or are preparing to undertake terrorist activities, whether or not that person can be linked to a foreign power or organization.

Oh, by the way:

“In a September letter to [Senate Judiciary Committee chairman] Pat Leahy assistant attorney general Ronald Weich recommended reauthorization of all three provisions on behalf of the Obama administration.”