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Patriot Act Extension By Autopen Raises Questions for Congressman 247

Okian Warrior writes "Congress passed the [Patriot act extension] bill Thursday night, shortly before certain provisions of the Patriot Act were set to expire. However, Mr. Obama could not sign the bill right away in person, since he was in Europe for the G8 Summit. In order to sign the bill before the measures expired, he authorized the use of the autopen machine, which holds a pen and signs his actual signature. Republican Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia sent President Obama a letter today questioning the constitutionality."
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Patriot Act Extension By Autopen Raises Questions for Congressman

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  • by DWMorse ( 1816016 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @08:41PM (#36269398) Homepage

    I for one welcome our new law-signing robotic overlords.

    ... I'm... I'm sorry.

    • by jhoegl ( 638955 )
      Dont make me go upside your head!
    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      Read My Sig.

      • Back in the day, there was a gizmo in Kansas City Railroad Station that transmitted position from a pen to a remote pen via telephone. One could exchange signatures and short notes.

        Of course fax has been around for a long time.


        Read My Sig.

  • by ChrisMounce ( 1096567 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @08:43PM (#36269414)
    I'd like to question the constitutionality of a lot more than just how it was signed.
    • I'd like to question the constitutionality of a lot more than just how it was signed.

      My thought too. He's got no problem with the law, but doesn't like the mechanics of getting it signed?

      • Yep. Deep, weird, shit. It's not like this was the first law signed by autopen in the absence of the signee, but with his spoken consent. But hey, these days, shit-stirring about technicalities seems to be the agenda. Saves you from discussing content.
        • Some of these "technicalities" are vitally important. I suspect that if someone were on trial for murder, and you were on the jury, you would consider the fact that someone else might have actually done it a "technicality".
        • Good for him. Maybe he's raising the technical issue as a last-ditch effort to obstruct it.

          • Yes, and while I wish him the best of luck, it also comes off as a bit pissy. "Autopen" already seems overly ceremonious -- what, they can't fax, email, etc, and have him print and sign that? Even that seems backwards compared to, say, cryptographic keys, but really, having a device that physically signs for him seems like overkill, and questioning it on a legal/constitutional basis is missing the point -- the President approved it.

            So, while I do think it'd be cool if he could block it this way, and it'd be

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm sure this is important. But given the bill in question, it seems a lot like complaining about the color of shirt the rapist wears while they're pounding you in the ass.

  • by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @08:48PM (#36269484) Journal

    More nitpicking and stupidity from the GOP that's all it is.

    What, you whiny republicans would rather he hadn't signed it at all, and let the act expire?


    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I do recall the PATRIOT act being one of the issues Teleprompter Jesus ran on. He and his democratic minions bitching about eavesdropping on Grandma's phone calls. Now our Dear Reader is renewing the law he railed against so he could get elected. Nice. Real nice.

      The democrats took Bush, painted him brown and put a D behind his name.


      O is merely continuing every policy Bush initiated...

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        Obama isn't just continuing, but where Bush drew the line(and he did several times), the Dem's haven't found a piece of privacy invading or unconstitutional law they didn't like. You'll find that many republican still do support things like the patriot act within reason, that being the key part. However most things within the last several years have come to ahead. And well, would have if Obama and Holder actually trusted the people doing the intel work.

      • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )

        At first I thought you meant painting him brown in the ideological sense.

    • by artor3 ( 1344997 )

      No, you and I might wish he hadn't signed it at all, but the "whiny republicans" definitely do not share our wishes. They voted for the extension by a six-to-one margin. The democrats were two-to-one against the extension. If the masses hadn't been deceived into giving the GOP control of the House, the Patriot Act would have expired this morning.

      Thanks, assholes.

      • You assume that the Democrats would not have voted differently had they been in the majority. Don't assume that.
        • That's sort of the thing, technically it didn't matter how the Democrats voted the first time as there were enough Republican votes to pass it considering that the President wasn't going to veto the bill. However, considering how few Democrats voted against it, I do think they deserve to be smacked upside the head for not at least symbolically voting against it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by anagama ( 611277 )

        And the President is not a Democrat? The President could have vetoed the law yes? He could have let it sit around and not extend the PATRIOT act correct? What did our Democratic President do -- he went to great lengths to make sure it was signed.

        If you think it makes a difference whether we have Democrats or Republicans in WA DC, you are deluded. Together they form a monoparty hell bent on shredding every word in the Constitution as we hurtle toward an Imperial Presidency.

        Bush, Obama -- no difference ex

      • The 'whiny republican' (the one questioning the constitutionality of the autopen) in question voted against the bill.

  • President Obama (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bios_Hakr ( 68586 ) <> on Friday May 27, 2011 @09:07PM (#36269620)

    Look, I'm not into the whole "political" thing.

    But it isn't "Mr." Obama; it's Mr. President or President Obama.

    You could also use The President or POTUS.

    Saying "Mr." Obama isn't just disrespecting him, it's disrespecting The Office of the President. It's tacky.

    • Re:President Obama (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jafafa Hots ( 580169 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @09:25PM (#36269738) Homepage Journal

      Gosh, I thought the thing was that the president works FOR US.

      We've had more than enough of putting more power and gravitas than was intended into the role of the presidency, doncha think?

      The whole point was to not have kings.

      • Which is why it's "Mr. President" rather than "His Elected Highness" or similar

        • Language is very maleable.

          For instance, choosing to be called "Dear Leader" can be sold as an act of self-abasement.

          • It's not that malleable. This isn't like Bush who failed to get elected in the standard fashion his first term. President Obama did manage to win the electoral votes necessary to be elected President without having the SCOTUS have to rewrite the constitution.

            Referring to him as Mr. is an insult to him and probably motivated on some level by racism.

            • > Referring to him as Mr. is an insult to him and probably motivated on some level by racism.

              You'd better inform The Economist of that fact, then. Everyone, regardless of class or creed, is referred to as <prefix>.<surname> in that rather respected organ.

              You can start with this article about Mr Reagan [].

            • by reiisi ( 1211052 )

              Malleable. Ask the linguists and the mathematicians.

              Stepping back from theory, however, in the case of "Mister", just as sure as there are groups for which it has racist connotations and other groups for which it invokes master/disciple relations or the like, there are also groups for him it is an assertion of a default assumption of respect, and yet other groups for him it is a reserved title of respect.

              Where "Mister" ranks relative to the title of "president" is yet another thing which varies from hood to

      • The whole point of a president is to be the leader of the armed forces -- all the other law making bullshit is just grandstanding. He can suggest, and sometimes appoint friends, and wish, and but the president can not make laws or actually "change" much. Mostly the president goes along with whatever are the plans of the established system (note: not party-- those too are distractions).

        Have you learned nothing from the scholars this recently passed Towel Day? The true purpose of the presidency is to di

    • by spitzak ( 4019 )

      Yea I don't know where that started, but it was not just Obama. Some time in the middle of the last Bush administration all news articles, from all political persuasions, started saying "Mr Bush" (and then "Mr Obama"). What happened to "President Bush" and "President Obama"?

      In fact it would help if they did this for historical reasons. Most presidents get in the news when they are not president, and future readers of news articles could tell immediately if the action/statement/whatever was from the person w

    • Look, I'm not into the whole "political" thing.

      But it isn't "Mr." Obama; it's Mr. President or President Obama.

      You could also use The President or POTUS.

      Saying "Mr." Obama isn't just disrespecting him, it's disrespecting The Office of the President. It's tacky.

      I believe the accepted journalistic standard is "President Obama" on the first mention in an article, but "Mr. Obama" in the rest of the article. But there's no hard-and-fast rule - just "Mr. Obama" is itself an indicator of respect (at least more so than just referring to him as "Obama").

      Also consider that this is the United States - disrespecting our elected officials is part of that whole "freedom of speech" concept...

      • Which means that we don't throw people in prison for insulting the President. Which is probably a good thing otherwise most of the citizens would be in prison. It doesn't mean that it's acceptable behavior or respectful to address him as such.

        • George Washington is rolling in his grave over how much of a pretentious jackass you, and the others you're parroting, are.

    • In defense, the office of POTUS hasn't been all that respectable in the 3 decades I have personally witnessed, either.

    • That might just give you some insight about how much respect the position has these days... then I'd suggest pondering a bit on why it's shown that much respect.
    • No. He is addressed directly as "Mr. President" as a sign of respect for the office. He is referred to as "President Obama" or "Mr. Obama" in news stories, largely depending on the style manual of the outfit doing the reporting. Extensive historical precedent for this, for Democrats and Republicans.

      As long as we're talking about official etiquette, one does not retain the honorary use of the title "President" after leaving office. Clinton and GWBush are IIRC both officially styled "Governor", since most s
      • It's hardly just Clinton and Bush that have retained the honorific, in recent decades that's become the style for all Presidents living or deceased.

        • I've not watched a lot of TV news, but in the parts I have, it's always "former President". NPR is quite careful to make the distinction, FWIW.
    • by anagama ( 611277 )
      I'm having a hard time thinking of an office that deserves more disrespect than POTUS. Between Obama and Bush who've been doing everything they can to convert the P to an E ("emperor"), our current rash of presidents deserve less respect than gutter rolling crack whores.
    • by blueg3 ( 192743 )

      This is America. I can call him what I damn well please.

      You think being tacky is a deterrent to Americans? You ever been to a theme park?

    • George Washington is rolling in his grave over how much of a jackass you are.

    • by jo42 ( 227475 )

      Before El Presidente Obama, it was perfectly acceptable to call his predecessor "Bushtard".

    • Outside America, his formal title would be His Excellency Mr Barrack Obama, President of the United States of America, shortening it to Mr Obama is quite common and standard given he makes no claim to royalty, is not a woman, did not hold a medical or doctoral degree and did not serve in the arm forces at a rank O-6 or above.

      Americans however have the right to disrespect any political office they feel like, it's surely more productive to discuss the political structure and office than to simply spread sland

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      It's only natural, the more people feel disenfranchised and the more they feel that government is done to them rather than for them, the less respect will be shown for any of it's trappings.

      People are catching on that it isn't just this guy or that guy that screws us, but anyone at all who occupies that office.

      Let a president act respectably and people will have respect.

  • Bravo Rand Paul. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by flydpnkrtn ( 114575 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @09:10PM (#36269644)

    "Congress bumped up against the deadline mainly because of the stubborn resistance from a single senator, Republican freshman Rand Paul of Kentucky, who saw the terrorist-hunting powers as an abuse of privacy rights. Paul held up the final vote for several days while he demanded a chance to change the bill to diminish the government's ability to monitor individual actions. The bill passed the Senate 72-23."

    - from []

    • I will admit, in all the posts about "Rand Paul" I thought they were talking about "Ron Paul" and being "4chan-clever," like Xbox fanboys calling Nintendo's offering the "GayCube"...

  • NPR did a nice little story about this today. Talks about what the Constitution says vs what it means. []

  • The Bush administration Justice Dept reviewed this, and while ultimately Bush decided to manually sign whatever bill they were discussing, the JP had produced a 20+ page justification that it WAS perfectly fine - the point was that the president had DECIDED to authorize the bill, not mechanically how he signed it. For example, the Constitution states that if he isn't going to sign it, he must return it - and nobody expects him to act like a process server, trying to 'catch' a congressman to literally retur

    • the point was that the president had DECIDED to authorize the bill

      What was it that he decided to authorize? I suppose he may have a general idea, but I doubt he knows specifically if he's having to sign it remotely. (Is the autopen robot reading the bill for him as well?)

      Is he limited to authorizing the signature on specific bills, or can he delegate it so "anything the Democratic leadership is ok with I authorize to be signed," etc.?

      Also, if your argument is that it is merely the authorization that is important, I don't see why the autopen would be used in the first pl

    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      The Bush Justice Dept also produced a 20 plus page paper detailing why torture wasn't torture.
  • Questioning the constitutionality of the way a bill gets signed that by itself is about as unconstitutional as a bill can get...

  • by TheABomb ( 180342 ) on Saturday May 28, 2011 @12:32AM (#36270780)

    ... so the president can find out what's in it!

    "They let me sign checks with a rubber stamp!" -H. Simpson.

  • He could have just as easily had GWB come back to sign it, this is his third term anyways. President Lawnchair isn't doing anything of his own design.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll