When Rep. Allen West said in his weekly newsletter that he was going to make a "careful assessment" on the Patriot Act extensions, it sounded like we could already pencil him in for a "yes" vote -- especially since he just recently voted for the 90-day extension.
It appears he was actually being serious about considering a vote against it.
West joined only 30 other House Republicans in voting "no" on extending three provisions in the Patriot Act -- the government's expanded wiretap capabilities, ability to obtain records, and the
"we're kinda sure you're a terrorist" "lone wolf" targeting.
Here's what West had to say last night after the vote:
"I have spent the past two months investigating these provisions to the PATRIOT Act, their effect on American citizens and their impact on apprehending terrorists to better keep our country safe. After much reading, many briefings, and conversations with local law enforcement and federal agents, including FBI Director Robert Mueller, I am not fully convinced that by extending these provisions for four years, we would be any safer, but instead I fear they may only give us the illusion of being safer."
Mueller had sent members of Congress a letter explaining how the Patriot Act ensured safety in the U.S., while West wrote him back with some questions:
- Can you provide a breakdown of how many times these provisions have been used on citizens and non-citizens?
- How many people were ever convicted or investigated?
- Out of those held, how many were released without being charged?
- Are there any individuals that are still being held that were never charged?
- What intelligence, if anything, came from these instances in which Section 206 was implemented?
Mueller didn't write back.
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The four-year extension of the provisions passed 250-153 and was signed by President Barack Obama just before midnight.