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Lone Senator thwarts Dubya's anti-terror excesses

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As Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (Democrat, South Dakota) moved to ram through a Draconian anti-terror bill without debate or amendment, it came down to a single, courageous Member, Russ Feingold (Democrat, Wisconsin), who stood up and refused to relinquish Congressional responsibility.

"I can't quite understand why we can't have just a few hours of debate," Feingold said, and dug in his heels.

He would like an opportunity to be heard on an amendment which would scale back the Senate bill to prevent police from doing secret searches and limit proposed expansions of wiretap regulations.

There are two anti-terror bills in the works; one from the House, called the PATRIOT Act, and a somewhat more Draconian Senate bill called the USA Act. The Bush administration greatly prefers the Senate version, and is believed to be putting pressure on House Speaker Dennis Hastert (Republican, Illinois) to drop the House version in favor of the nastier one from that other chamber.

Interestingly, after offending most of Congress Tuesday by announcing a Nanny scheme to confine classified briefings to the leaders of both chambers and the chairmen and ranking members of the two intelligence committees, Bush softened his position, most likely in fear that his anti-terror legislation might be gutted for revenge.

According to the 'kinder, gentler' policy, the Departments of State and Defense will brief the full Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, and even the general membership for a special treat once in a while.

Thus a show-briefing was hastily arranged, whereby State and Defense officials stroked the full House in a closed session Wednesday.

"The President is satisfied that Congressional leaders seem to be satisfied," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer trilled later in the day.

So with that unpleasant incident in the past, Congress can get back to the business of making Bush proud with some desperately-needed police-state legislation.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has done a splendid job of organizing the differences among the PATRIOT and USA Acts, along with Bush/Ashcroft's original Stalinist wish-list called the Anti-terrorism Act (ATA), in simple tabular form for easy comparison. ®

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