[S]tanding over the President’s shoulder with a smile on his face is Democratic Senate Minority Harry Reid (D-NV)! Reid is currently leading efforts in the Senate to block the renewal of the Patriot Act.
In fact, Reid’s position on the Patriot Act has been completely consistent. In 2001, when he voted for the act, Reid supported “sunsetting” the controversial provisions to ensure they weren’t being used to violate civil liberties, or to investigate crimes not related to terrorism.
As it turns out, the powers issued by the Patriot Act had been abused — and one of the most blatant abuses was in Reid’s home state of Nevada, where the act was used to investigate a strip-club owner. Since those stories came to light more than two years ago, Reid has supported modifications to the Patriot Act that are not now in the bill:
11/11/03: Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said he is supportive of sunset provisions that will cause many parts of the Patriot Act to expire in 2005. [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
12/15/03: Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, said he was not aware that the money-laundering provision was in the bill when he voted for it in late 2001. He said he did not expect the bill to be as widely used as it has been in domestic investigations that had little or nothing to do with international terrorism. He said he thought the bill was about thwarting terrorists, not, as he put it, “naked women.” [New York Times]