Civil liberties activists warned that reauthorizing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act without protective reforms would violate every American’s privacy rights. The bill, S. 139, allows government authorities to monitor domestic phone and internet conversations and to conduct back-door searches for private information about people in the United States that is contained in the National Security Agency’s database. All without a warrant. Yet another weakening of the Fourth Amendment.
There was an alternative to this renewal and expansion. Bipartisan legislation introduced by California Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren and Michigan Republican Rep. Justin Amash—the USA Rights Act—would have amended FISA to require that agencies get a warrant. The act would also have required the government to disclose when it uses information acquired under Section 702 and to be transparent about how many people are under surveillance.
But the House voted down that alternative Thursday. And it approved the FISA renewal with its enhanced authority.
Sandra Fulton, Government Relations Manager at the Free Press Action Fund, said in a statement:
“No government entity should have such oppressive surveillance powers. This unconstitutional legislation will allow the FBI to continue sifting through the data even when those searches don’t involve a specific criminal investigation. This is an especially grave concern because recent administrations, in both political parties, have unjustly targeted people of color and political dissidents. Reauthorizing Section 702 without the strong reforms narrowly voted down today allows for unchecked spying on people across America.
The FISA renewal and expansion passed by a vote of 256-164. A majority of House Democrats voted against the bell. But, shamefully, 65 Democrats voted for renewal without the protections that the USA Rights Act would have provided. While most of the names are no surprise, the list includes representatives who should be grilled about their vote next time they’re at a public event on their home turf. Representatives such as Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, John Garamendi, and Louise Slaughter, for instance.
Here’s the whole list of Democratic “yes” votes on the bill:
|Pete Aguilar (CA)
Ami Bera (CA)
Sanford D. Bishop Jr. (GA)
Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE)
Brendan F. Boyle (PA)
Anthony D. Brown (MD)
Julia Brownley (CA)
Cheri Bustos (IL)
André Carson (IN)
Matt Cartwright (PA)
Kathy Castor (FL)
James E. Clyburn (SC)
Jim Cooper (TN)
Jim Costa (CA)
Charlie Crist (FL)
Henry Cuellar (TX)
John K. Delaney (MD)
Val Butler Demings (FL)
Theodore E. Deutch (FL)
Bill Foster (IL)
Lois Frankel (FL)
John Garamendi (CA)
Josh Gottheimer (NJ)
Brian Higgins (NY)
Collin C. Peterson (MN)
Rep. Barbara Lee of California’s East Bay released the following statement condemning the passage of the FISA renewal. As is so often the case, she hits the nail on the head:
“In developing sensitive national security legislation, Congress has a responsibility to strike an appropriate balance between ensuring the safety of Americans and protecting civil liberties. The FISA Amendment Reauthorization Act passed by the House today fails this test. Alarmingly, this bill expands the spy powers of the Trump Administration and gives the federal government broad authority to read Americans’ emails, text messages, and other electronic communications without a warrant.
“As a subject of J. Edgar Hoover’s intrusive and discriminatory COINTELPRO, I have seen the havoc that these covert spying campaigns can wreak. The wiretapping and harassment of Dr. Marin Luther King Jr. and his family will go down in history as one of our nation’s most shameful chapters. As we’ve seen all too often, it is journalists, dissidents, marginalized communities, and people of color who become the targets of government surveillance.
“Members of both parties support FISA reform, which is why I voted for the USA Rights Act, which would have made meaningful modifications to protect Americans’ constitutional rights. Our civil liberties shouldn’t be signed away with the stroke of a pen.”
“Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.”
~Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951)
At this date at Daily Kos in 2007—Science Friday: There Is No Controversy:
Ever since the terms “Climate Change” and “Global Warming” first made the news, the right has been engaged in an effort to ridicule the whole notion. Man could have an effect on the atmosphere? Pshaw! Okay, so Rush Limbaugh and the Fox airheads don’t actually say pshaw. Instead, they’ve said that the idea of a human-caused climate change is “ridiculous,” and “malarkey” and a “farce.” (I’d give you links for those, but adding a link to Limbaugh and friends would give me a rash).
Most of all, they’ve pushed the idea that our increasing thirst for flammable hydrocarbons might just cause an eensy change in the environment is controversial. Sure, sure, we might be having a hot year — or two, or ten — but that doesn’t mean people had anything to do with it. After all, we’re so small and the atmosphere is just so big. How could a little old us possibly have more effect than volcanoes, or cyclical changes, or the bad old carbon fairy, or whatever cause the right wants to put forward this week? We changed the air? Huh, that’s just controversial.
They’ve depended on paid shills to generate pop-science FUD, and like the mercenaries of ignorance who constantly try to make it seem as if there’s some scientific debate around evolution, they’ve created smoke in the hopes of making people believe there’s a fire. They’ve created fake organizations dedicated to spreading misinformation (current headline “Earth’s plants tell us they’re loving the CO2 increase!”) They’ve even made a hero out of Michael Crichton (the one man whose ego might be larger than Bush and Rush combined) and his account of a Global Warming “conspiracy,” frequently citing his poorly-researched fictional tome as proof of the evil left wing environmentalist attempt to strip away your Hummer.
The trouble with this notion is that the folks who stole the “it’s only a theory” page from the whacko creationists are lying. There is no controversy. There’s been none in scientific journals, and no, scientists did not think we were going to freeze just a decade ago, no matter how many times the shills say they did. With every passing day, the evidence becomes more compelling.