As the Senate rushed to renew expiring provisions from the Patriot Act this week, Rand Paul, a Tea Party favorite, forcefully challenged both Republicans and Democrats to have an extended period of open debate on the particulars of the law. Harry Reid had promised a full week of debate on the Patriot Act and the specific provisions that allow the government to disregard standard civil liberties under the banner of fighting terrorism, but reneged. And, virtually all Senators were silent except for Paul who managed to open the door on privacy issues and force a vote on two Amendments. Paul has also joined with Sen. Leahy (D-VT) to sponsor a separate law to phase out the so called National Security Letters provision which allows the FBI to collect, without court approval, personal records from banks, credit card companies and Internet providers. Perhaps it's time to acknowledge that elements of the Tea Party could be important allies to Progressive Democrats in the fight to restore privacy rights.