Judge strikes down Patriot Act provision

And what ever happened to the new attorney general?

Published September 6, 2007 4:31PM (EDT)

A U.S. district judge in New York today struck down portions of the new-and-improved Patriot Act, ruling that the act "offends the fundamental constitutional principles of checks and balances and separation of powers" to the extent it allows law enforcement to demand customer records from Internet providers without getting a court order or grand jury subpoena first.

The ruling reminded us, somehow, of something we'd almost forgotten amid all the talk of Larry Craig and the surge in Iraq: The president hasn't nominated a new attorney general yet, has he?

Roll Call says that the White House had finally begun floating a "short list" of possible Alberto Gonzales replacements among "key senators."

On the list: former Solicitor General Ted Olson; William Barr, who served as attorney general under the president's father; former Deputy Attorney General George Terwilliger; federal appellate Judge Laurence Silberman, a card-carrying member of the "vast, right-wing conspiracy"; former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson; and former U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey, who argued recently that the conviction of Jose Padilla on terrorism charges proved that the civilian courts are inadequate when it comes to protecting "a society that must gather information about, and at least incapacitate, people who have cosmic goals that they are intent on achieving by cataclysmic means."

Not on the list: Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff, who was thought to be the most likely replacement for Gonzales just a week or so ago.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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