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Jane Harman Saves The Patriot Act

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It took just four Democratic defections to keep the Patriot Act as-is. The Patriot Act, which gives law enforcers the right to sneak, peek, and surveil with unprecedented authority, almost took a hit last week. Rep. Bernie Sanders (Socialist-VT) proposed an amendment to eliminate the government's new right to track what books people buy or check out at the library. Rep. Jane Harman of the South Bay sided against Sanders - and her vote proved to be decisive. She argues that the amendment was an inappropriate piecemeal reform, and that Congress should enact a more comprehensive re-work of the legislation in a forthcoming session.

Harman is the ranking minority member of the House Intelligence committee. She often brings a needed dose of sanity to Washington's efforts to prevent terrorism. An example? Her recent call for the U.S. to abandon the Homeland Security Dept.'s silly color-coded "threat system."

But you don't have to be a C-SPAN addict to know that Tom DeLay's Republican caucus gives Democrats very few opportunities to exert their will. This reform would not have precluded future attempts to revise the law, and it would have represented a victory for those who oppose the principle of the act.

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If you'd like to voice your opinions on this matter, I'm sure Rep. Harman's staff would be happy to hear from you. Her El Segundo district office can be reached at 310-643-3636.