Oh, we've been bad boys and girls and Daddy has scolded us! Oh my, how can we make amends?
"...lawmakers explored possibilities Monday for a compromise to temporarily extend portions of the anti-terrorism law due to expire Dec. 31."
In other words, the Senate of the United States, having taken a very well-reported stand against extending 16 of the most abuse-prone portions of the Patriot Act, isn't preparing for a "compromise to temporarily extend" the blasted things--they're trying to figure out how to vote for them without having their political heads handed to them.
It will be done as close to either Christmas or New Year's as possible, in order to try and minimize the publicity. That is the way of things in Washington.
Data point: VP Cheney has cut his Middle East trip short, so that he can get home to fulfill his "constitutional duties". They specifically mention his tie-breaking vote in the Senate. Could the fix be in already?
We're being sold down the river. Mark my words.