Several of the most extremist provisions of the 2001 Patriot Act are going to expire on June 1 unless Congress reauthorizes them in some form. Obama officials such as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and new Attorney General Loretta Lynch have been engaged in rank fear-mongering to coerce renewal, warning that we’ll all be “less safe” if these provisions are allowed to “sunset” as originally intended, while invoking classic Cheneyite rhetoric by saying Patriot Act opponents will bear the blame for the next attack. In an interview yesterday with the Intercept, ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer explained why those scare tactics are outright frivolous.
Enter the New York Times. An article this morning by Julie Hirschfeld Davis, in the first paragraph, cites anonymous Obama officials warning that “failing to [strike a deal by the deadline] would suspend crucial domestic surveillance authority at a time of mounting terrorism threats.” Behold the next two paragraphs:
“What you’re doing, essentially, is you’re playing national security Russian roulette,” one senior administration official said of allowing the powers to lapse. That prospect appears increasingly likely with the measure, the USA Freedom Act, stalled and lawmakers in their home states and districts during a congressional recess.
“We’re in uncharted waters,” another senior member of the administration said at a briefing organized by the White House, where three officials spoke with reporters about the consequences of inaction by Congress. “We have not had to confront addressing the terrorist threat without these authorities, and it’s going to be fraught with unnecessary risk.”
Those two paragraphs, courtesy of the Obama White House and the Paper of Record, have it all: the principal weapons that have poisoned post-9/11 political discourse in the U.S.