Ten years ago today, President George W. Bush signed a bill called the “United and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism,” better known as the PATRIOT Act. It’s a good time to reflect on the law’s impact as well as how the Iowans in Congress voted on its provisions over the last decade.
Everyone in Iowa’s Congressional delegation voted for the PATRIOT Act in 2001: Senators Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin, House Republicans Jim Nussle (IA-01), Jim Leach (IA-03), Greg Ganske (IA-04) and Tom Latham (IA-05), and House Democrat Leonard Boswell (IA-03).
When Congress reauthorized the legislation in 2006, Harkin was one of 10 senators who voted against the PATRIOT Act. Grassley voted to reauthorize the bill, as did all five Iowans in the U.S. House: Nussle, Leach, Boswell, Latham (IA-04) and Steve King (IA-05). Click here to view the 2001 and 2006 House and Senate roll call votes on the PATRIOT Act.
Congress has continued to extend the PATRIOT Act in recent years. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act came up for several important votes in 2008. Boswellvoted with Latham, King and Grassley for a “compromise” that gave Republicans and President Bush everything they wanted. Harkin and House Democrats Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) voted against the FISA bill.
In May 2011, Congress voted to let three of the most controversial PATRIOT Act provisions continue until June 2015. Harkin voted against that extension, as did Braley and Loebsack. Grassley, Boswell, Latham and King supported the extension.
The American Civil Liberties Union explained some of the biggest problems with the PATRIOT Act here and in more depth here (pdf). I enclose below an ACLU infographic showing “some of the most troubling aspects” of the law.
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