Lieberman Aligns With GOP on USA PATRIOT Act
Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) joined Republicans Friday in calling for a straight reauthorization of several controversial USA PATRIOT Act provisions, once again bucking Democratic leaders and the White House on a key issue.Lieberman, a defense hawk who heads the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Judiciary ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Intelligence ranking member Kit Bond (R-Mo.) on Friday introduced a bill reauthorizing the law’s roving wiretap, business records and “lone wolf— terrorist provisions. Those provisions have been criticized by civil libertarians, and Democrats have been moving forward with legislation that would significantly curb the government’s ability to use them on citizens.Introduction of the bill comes just days after Lieberman announced he will side with Republicans in filibustering health care legislation if it includes a public insurance option. It also comes on the same day that ABC News reported Lieberman as saying he will back GOP candidates in 2010. Lieberman ardently campaigned for Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) in 2010, a move that nearly cost him the Homeland Security gavel.In the ABC interview, Lieberman also said whether he will run as a Democrat or an Independent in 2012 remains an “open question.— Lieberman opted to run as an Independent in 2006 after he lost the Democratic primary to Ned Lamont. “I probably will support some Republican candidates for Congress or Senate in the election in 2010. I’m going to call them as I see them,— Lieberman said in the report.“There’s a hard core of partisan, passionate, hard-core Republicans. There’s a hard core of partisan Democrats on the other side. And in between is the larger group, which is people who really want to see the right thing done or want something good done for this country and them — and that means, sometimes, the better choice is somebody who’s not a Democrat,— he added.On Friday, Lieberman argued that a full PATRIOT Act reauthorization, rather than the modified version preferred by Democrats and the White House, is needed to protect the country from terrorist attacks.“Our intelligence and law enforcement professionals need a complete and immediate reauthorization of the expiring PATRIOT Act provisions,— Lieberman said. “FBI Director Robert Mueller recently urged Congress to re-enact these provisions as essential tools in the FBI’s counterterrorism efforts. Recent arrests of alleged terrorists plotting attacks throughout our country clearly show that this is no time to weaken or undermine the tools that law enforcement relies on to protect America from another terrorist attack.— The Connecticut Senator’s political and legislative maneuverings over the last week are likely to prompt a fresh round of recriminations from the Democratic Party. Senate Democrats voted to allow Lieberman to keep his chairmanship last fall, but only after Lieberman vowed to vote with Democrats on procedural matters.