Rep. Sensenbrenner Tries to Silence PATRIOT Act Debate

Earlier today, the House Judiciary Committee held another hearing on the renewal of the PATRIOT Act. This meeting was requested by the Democratic minority under House rules, as they were prevented in previous meetings from calling their own witnesses to offer testimony on PATRIOT provisions.

After two hours of cutting witnesses off in mid-sentence and in some cases preventing them from answering questions, Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI) unilaterally gaveled the hearing to a close. House rules do not allow any committee chair to gavel a minority hearing without either a motion to adjourn or a call for unanimous consent. Sensenbrenner gave a short diatribe attacking the witnesses and their testimony, then gaveled the hearing and left the room, taking the Republicans with him.

The Democratic members and witnesses continued discussion for almost 10 minutes, despite the chairman’s attempts to have the microphones shut off. According to Rep. Nadler (D-NY), he also attempted to force the official reporter to stop recording the events of the hearing for the record.

This isn’t the first time Sensenbrenner’s pulled this kind of stuff: he snuck the “Real ID” provision into a military appropriations bill, which sets standards for state driver’s licenses that in effect create a national ID, and he rewrote a Democratic amendment to a bill in an attempt to slander Democrats.

Shame on you, Rep. Sensenbrenner, for showing such contempt for democracy. Attempting to stifle debate because you don’t agree with what’s being said is unAmerican and undemocratic.

Video is available at by clicking on “House Hearing on Patriot Act Reauthorization.”

I was so happy a while back when the house districts were changed, so Sensenbrenner no longer represents me!

I am happy to note that one of my senators was the only guy who voted against the Patriot Act, because of concerns which are finally being shared by others, of both parties.

The thing is, Sensenbrenner was one of the guys who really fought for the sunset provisions in PATRIOT. Why he’s now fighting attempts to review the damn thing before it sunsets, I can’t understand.

Maybe he was visited by Karl Rove?

Karl Rove can convince anybody to vote his way.

If he’s prepared.

That’s a less horrifying joke than Shirtless Rove would have been.

And yet I posted it anyways. Prepare the brain bleach.

Actually, that’s nor far off from reality.

Just change it to a red, white, and blue G String and Sheena Easton’s Sugar Walls playing in the background.

Feingold for President!

I’m for that.

Of course, it has a minimal chance of happening.

Buncha goddamn America-haters. The president is for the PATRIOT Act, what need is there for any debate?

Debate? These aren’t debates. They are freedom discussions, otherwise known as liberty chats.

So you pinko commie al queda sypathizer, why do you hate America? :stuck_out_tongue:

If ya can’t beat 'em, join 'em.

That wording is non-operant. The operant verbiage is now:
If ya can’t beat 'em, waterboard 'em.

Have you learned nothing from 9/11?

brianjedi, I followed your link and watched all of the hearing. It was great to see democracy in action again those last ten minutes!

Sensenbrenner is really chilling. I don’t think it would take much to convince him that a dictatorship is the way to go. He claims that he strictly follows the rules of the House, but when a member raises a point of order or privilege, the chairman is required to ask the member to state his point and then rule. Sensenbrenner often just ignored them.

But he was so careful about enforcing those time limits that he interrupted witnesses mid sentence! I’ve never seen a chairman that rude to witnesses. To one of them he just said, “Could you wrap it up? Your time has expired.” He did everything but fart in her face.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee scored a few points when she said, “I will yield to my two colleagues because of the disorientation of the chairman.” (Rep. Jackson Lee was one whose absence had been singled out by the chair.)

To this day I can’t see Conyers without remembering that he was on Nixon’s enemies list. That will always be to his credit.

The words of Dr. James Zogby at the end as he pleaded for understanding were moving. I wish that I had written down exactly what he said. He was so frustrated at the cold reception and hostility.

Do you remember how Jerrold Nadler’s microphone came on for a while, went off, and then came back on? What I want to know is who turned it off while he was speaking? That is the kind of person we have most to fear from in the country – the ones who want to silence people.

"We are not besmirching the honor of the United States; we are trying to uphold it." – Rep. Jerrold Nadler, NY

Zoe, Rep. Nadler was on Randi Rhodes’s show this afternoon (which is how I found out about this) and he said that Rep. Sensenbrenner went to the C-Span people and told them to cut the microphones.

Randi said she called the office of every member who was present. Only the Democrats would even speak to her. She had Reps. Nadler and Jackson-Lee on while I was stuck in traffic this afternoon.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has called for an apology on the floor of the House from Rep. Sensenbrenner. I think there should be a serious look at whether his violation of House rules is serious enough to warrant punishment.

Sensenbrenner is the one who introduced the bill entitled Defending America’s Most Vulnerable.

Among the provisions:

[li]a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for a first-time conviction of distributing a small amount of marijuana to a person under 18 years of age[/li][li]a 10-year sentence for a second offense of distributing marijuana to a person under 21[/li][li]Increase to five years the federal mandatory minimum sentence for the sale of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school, college, public library, drug treatment facility (or any place where drug treatment, including classes, are held), or private or public daycare facilities.[/li][li]Punishes defendants for the “relevant conduct” of co-conspirators that occurred BEFORE the defendant joined the conspiracy.[/li][li]Create a new three-year mandatory minimum for parents who witness or learn about drug trafficking activities, targeting or even near their children, if they do not report it to law enforcement authorities within 24 hours and do not provide full assistance investigating, apprehending, and prosecuting the offender.[/li][li]Mandate life in prison for persons 21 years or older convicted a second time of distributing drugs to a person under 18[/li][/ul]

As per the Marijuana Policy Project,

A serious look by who, the house ethics committee? It’s been nonfunctional since January, and there’s no evidence things will improve in the forseeable future.
Vote Illustrates House Stalemate Over Ethics

House Ethics Chief Is Tied to Lobby Figures

The committee’s not about to drop it’s defense of DeLay in order to censure Sensenbrenner.

Just for the sake of balance and fairness, I’d like to point out that in regions where specially Draconian marijuana laws have been imposed, the admissions to emergency rooms for marijuana overdoses have dropped to zero!

Why do you guys hate America?

My darling Marcie and I have been investigating retiring in Panama. We would leave tomorrow if we could; if not for Panama, Somewhere Else. We want to be outa here before the police state officially begins.

Twenty posts.

Not one poster has pointed out that the witnesses were testifying about such things as the conditions in Guantanamo, which have nothing to do with the Patriot Act.

The witnesses were using the forum of a Patriot Act hearing to air their grievances about other Bush administration policies.

Why is it that nobody mentioned that?