(From the diaries. If true, a huge congrats to Russ. And to make things sweeter, it's a true bipartisan coalition. The Patriot Act shouldn't be a partisan issue -- kos
Associated Press Writer Laurie Kellman reports that it appears Senator Russ Feingold now has enough votes to stop renewal of the PATRIOT Act!
[...] the senior Democrat on the issue, Sen. Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record), D-Vt., told reporters that more than 40 votes exist to sustain a filibuster in a test vote Friday.
Feingold has pulled together a bipartisan group of Senators to oppose passage of the act in it's current form, which he feels does not yet sufficiently protect our civil liberties.
Feingold finds himself with some unlikely allies, including the Christian Defense Coalition. Notably, the National Rifle Association has not endorsed the Patriot Act renewal that was personally negotiated by Vice President Dick Cheney. The NRA's non-position allows its Senate supporters to oppose renewing the law in its entirety.
"Folks, when we're dealing with civil liberties, you don't compromise them," said Sen. Larry Craig (news, bio, voting record), R-Idaho, an NRA board member.
Other Republicans joining Senator Feingold in opposition include John Sununu of New Hampshire, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and recently Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.
The story lays out Senator Feingold's history with the PATRIOT Act, from being a lone voice in the wilderness, to now having a bipartisan group willing to stand with him to protect our civil rights. I couldn't help but be reminded of Henry Fonda's character in 12 Angry Men.
For those who have not seen this movie, (first of all rent it now! It will inspire you!) it tells the story of how one jurist, Mr. Davis (played by Fonda), starts out as the only one on the panel unwilling to blindly accept the prosecution's claims of a man's guilt, and instead begins analyzing the facts of the case, eventually persuading the other members of the jury to acquit the man.
The AP article even mentions Russ's possible bid for the presidency and how the issue of the PATRIOT Act may turn out to be a winning one for him, despite all initial appearances to the contrary.
"People don't go to the well of the Senate and become the only senator to vote against something called the 'USA Patriot Act' five weeks after 9/11 because they're trying to get ready to run for president," Feingold said.