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Repug House Judiciary chair shuts down Patriot Act hearing, walks out

Sensenbrenner: what a prick.

Democracy lite. The BradBlog reports that Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. lost his f*cking mind and cut off mics in the middle of testimony. That’s right — he unilaterally deep-sixed committee hearings on the reauthorization of the Patriot Act without comment or issuing any kind of statement. Brad:

Apparently, they inappropriately called witnesses to testify today from whom the Republicans did not wish to hear…Today’s hearings were called under the archane provision of House Rule 11, which, we are told, allows the Minority to call for an additional day of hearings and to choose their own witnesses if they are unsatisfied with the hearings as held by the Majority. The U.S. House Judiciary Democrats have been unable to do that previously on issues like Election 2004 and Media Bias because the Majority hadn’t called a hearing at all on those matters, and thus, they were forced to call their own hearings.

This is an abuse of power that we’re getting used to seeing from Repugs, even brassy enough to do it live on C-SPAN. Of course it was purposely scheduled for Friday so it would die in the MSM. From the AP report:

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., chairman of the panel, abruptly gaveled the meeting to an end and walked out, followed by other Republicans. Sensenbrenner declared that much of the testimony, which veered into debate over the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, was irrelevant.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., protested, raising his voice as his microphone went off, came back on, and went off again. “We are not besmirching the honor of the United States, we are trying to uphold it,” he said.

Chimpy: “Letting those provisions expire would leave law enforcement in the dark.”

Democrats asked for the hearing, the 11th the committee has held on the act since April, saying past hearings had been too slanted toward witnesses who supported the law. The four witnesses were from groups, including Amnesty International USA and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, that have questioned the constitutionality of some aspects of the act, which allows law enforcement greater authority to investigate suspected terrorists.

Nadler said Sensenbrenner, one of the authors of the Patriot Act, was “rather rude, cutting everybody off in mid-sentence with an attitude of total hostility.”

WaPo graphs show a majority of the sheeple generally don’t mind their rights violated, but are getting queasy. The public strongly backs the Bush position, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed said the act should be renewed, while 39 percent said it should not. Support turned to opposition, however, when people were asked whether the FBI should be permitted to demand records without first getting the approval of a judge or prosecutor, which Bush and some lawmakers favor. Sixty-eight percent said they oppose this idea. Even Republicans, who overwhelmingly support the USA Patriot Act, are concerned about this, with 58 percent opposing it.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding