Politics

The Many Occasions Joe Biden Took Credit For Writing The Patriot Act

Biden has repeatedly claimed that a bill he wrote in 1994 was essentially the same as the 2001 Patriot Act.

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If Vice President Joe Biden decides to enter the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, his past positions -- including on trade bills, the Iraq War, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, and changes to welfare -- are sure to draw the ire of the party's liberal base.

Much has already been made about Biden's instrumental role as a senator pushing through the 1994 crime bill -- "a bill that made the problem worse" according to former President Bill Clinton, who signed it into law.

Another potential sticking point for liberals: Biden not only voted for the 2001 Patriot Act, he, on many occasions, claimed credit for writing it.

"I drafted a terrorism bill after the Oklahoma City bombing," Biden was quoted as saying by the New Republic in 2001.

"And the bill John Ashcroft sent up was my bill," Biden continued, referring to the Patriot Act. The act broadened the surveillance capabilities of U.S. law enforcement agencies as it relates to identifying potential terrorists, and many of its provisions have been opposed by liberal Democrats and civil libertarians.

It wasn't the first time Biden took credit for the Patriot Act . On Meet the Press that same year, he made similar comments referring to the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995.

"I introduced the terrorism bill in '94 that had a lot of these things in it," Biden again said.

"The devil's in the details. For example, you talked about the Internet. We can get a (inaudible), we can go now, if you are in the mob, and we can find out who you called -- not the content of the conversation. We can get your telephone log. Well, they want to be able to get essentially that log off the Internet."

"It depends on -- the difference here is whether just getting what web sites you hit and the content of what you got," he continued. "You hit amazon.com, that's OK. They want to find out what books you read, that's not OK. So the devil's in the details here, and we're working those through."

On another occasion in 2002, when the FBI director was testifying before Congress, Biden said not only that he wrote the 1994 act, but Attorney General John Ashcroft called him to say it was basically the same as the bill they were introducing.

"Civil libertarians were opposed to it," Biden said. "Right after 1994, and you can ask the attorney general this, because I got a call when he introduced the Patriot Act. He said, 'Joe, I'm introducing the act basically as you wrote it in 1994.'"

"It was defeated then not by any liberals," added Biden. "It was defeated then by the folks who were worried we'd have the Minutemen, would get in trouble. By the Mr. Barr's of the world, who were worried about the right-wing, not anything else."

"That has nothing to do with you all, but just to set the record straight. Almost the same thing that got passed, the Patriot Act, was introduced by me in 1994, and it was the right-wing that defeated it. You guys tried to help get it passed, including the wiretap changes and the rest."

Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Andrew Kaczynski at andrew.kaczynski@buzzfeed.com.

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