Four Republican rebels

4 GOP Senators Hold Firm Against Patriot Act Renewal
More Safeguards Needed, They Say

The four Republican rebels:

Larry E. Craig (Idaho), 202-224-2752
Chuck Hagel (Neb.), 202-224-4224
John E. Sununu (N.H.) 202-224-2841 and
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) 202-224-6665

have joined all but two Senate Democrats in arguing that more civil liberties safeguards need to be added to the proposed renewal of the Patriot Act.

Hagel says, “I took an oath of office to the Constitution, I didn’t take an oath of office to my party or my president.”

“The beauty of Westerners is that we have a healthy distrust of our government,” says Sen. Larry Craig, adding that gun owners are particularly leery of laws that give federal agents greater powers to secretly search offices and homes. “Whether they are business records or they are gun dealers’ records or whatever, they are records that can be gained” under the law.

Sununu, whose father was a New Hampshire governor and White House chief of staff to George H.W. Bush, took issue with Bush’s ultimatum. “How can the president justify vetoing the [temporary] extension?” Sununu says. “That suggests that he thinks the country is better off without any Patriot Act provisions in place than with a three-month extension. And that makes no sense at all.”

“I think the responsible thing to do at this point is to move forward with a three-month extension” of the current law says Murkowski. She says she has received angry phone calls and e-mails from non-Alaskans. “But I’ve got to listen to my constituents first,” she says, and they have been “very supportive.”

Please. take time to call and thank them for their courage in putting the Constitution ahead of party politics.

And then consider sending one more thank you call to Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell at 202-224-3441 for leading a filibuster against the ANWR drilling bill and winning the critical vote against drilling. Senators Kerry, Reid, and Feinstein, among others, also played important roles, but Cantwell has been a consistent leader on environmental and energy issues.

“This is nothing more than a sweetheart deal for Alaska and the oil companies,” she says. “That’s why I am prepared to use every procedural option available to me as a senator to prevent this language from moving forward.”

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