Did you catch the PATRIOT Act hearing on C-Span on Friday night? I knew it would be interesting to watch because I'd read earlier that day that Rep. Sensenbrenner (the committee chair) walked out of the hearing, fed up with what he perceived as obstructionism by the Democratic members of the committee.
Indeed, Sensenbrenner did walk out after adjourning the hearing when the witnesses (invited by the Dems, I think) weren't yet done testifying. Rep. Nadler continued to speak, but his microphone was periodically cut off, only to come back, and then be cut off again.
Sensenbrenner's argument was that very little of what the witnesses had to say concerned the USA PATRIOT Act (the subject of the hearing) but instead focused on complaints about Guantanamo Bay, etc. Of course, the Republicans weren't above playing this game. Rep. Pence spent his allotted time berating the representative from Amnesty International about that organization's characterization of Guantanamo Bay as a "gulag." (Hey, it's an overblown comparison, but it's the nature of rhetoric. . . . It's not like Republicans don't do things like that. Just consider Sen. Santorum's infamous "man on dog" comment while discussing his opposition to gay marriage.)
Anyway, I can kind of see the point that I think the Democrats were trying to make, which is that if you are going to be talking about renewing counterterrorism powers for the government, it's relevant to consider how responsibly the government has used those -- and other -- powers. Still, I think that only goes so far. A lot of what the Democrats don't like about the war on terrorism -- Guantanamo, the detention of Padilla and Hamdi, etc. -- falls under the Department of Defense, not the Department of Justice. Focusing on DOJ excesses would therefore be more persuasive to me as a basis for listening to witnesses testify during PATRIOT Act hearings.
In any event, I wish that TiVo had some way of knowing what C-Span will be broadcasting, because I'd probably go ahead and TiVo all the hearings on the PATRIOT Act. . . .