Niki Tsongas failed to take a principled stand on the PATRIOT Act last week. This is exactly the kind of “compromise” that makes the Democratic Party
Tsongas defended the vote as a stopgap measure until lawmakers on Capitol Hill can agree to a suitable alternative that balances personal freedoms with the need to protect the United States from attacks at home and abroad. President Barack Obama signed the extension into law on Saturday.
“This is a temporary one-year extension, and I do have serious concerns with it, but we don’t yet have a substitute to correct them,” Tsongas told The Sun when questioned about her vote. “We saw with the Christmas Day bomber that we still have real problems collecting intelligence and sharing it, and we need a broad solution.”
The House voted 315-97 last Thursday to extend three key provisions of the Patriot Act related to wiretapping and surveillance that were set to expire on Sunday. The vote, coming on the heels of unanimous consent without a roll call in the Senate, extends the powers granted to the federal government until Feb. 28, 2011.
Tsongas joined 127 Democrats, including the party leadership, in backing the extension, but was one of only three members of the Massachusetts delegation to support the measure. U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Boston, probably the most conservative of the delegation, and Rep. William Delahunt, D-Quincy, also voted to support the extension.
The PATRIOT Act is a steaming pile of crap. It should have been repealed the first month that the Democrats gained a majority. That they have not done so, but have gone on to extend it, is an indicator of how little they value our rights.