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Jul 29 2013

House Votes for Continued Illegal Surveillance

Rep. Justin Amash, a Tea Party Republican from Michigan but one that actually does care about civil liberties, tried to add an amendment to this year’s defense appropriations bill to prevent the NSA from using the Patriot Act to seize phone records of those who are not under investigation. The White House, a sizable number of Democrats and the majority of Republicans made sure that didn’t happen.

The House on Wednesday rejected an attempt to curtail the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities after a furious last-minute lobbying campaign by the White House to defeat the measure.

The House voted 205-217 against the amendment from Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), which would have prevented the National Security Agency from using the Patriot Act to collect phone records of individuals who aren’t under investigation.

A majority of Democrats — 111 — voted for Amash’s amendment despite the White House pressure, while 83 Democrats voted no. The GOP vote was 94-134.

And this is the problem that I have pointed out time and again. Because of Obama’s enthusiastic support for the National Surveillance State, such blatantly unconstitutional intrusions are now a matter of bipartisan consensus. When a Republican wins the White House, a handful of those Democrats who voted against this bill will likely rediscover the 4th Amendment and civil liberties, just like the Republicans suddenly discover fiscal responsibility when a Democrat is in office.

6 comments

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  1. 1
    Modusoperandi

    The House voted 205-217 against the amendment from Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), which would have prevented the National Security Agency from using the Patriot Act to collect phone records of individuals who aren’t under investigation.

    It’s a moot point. Everybody is under investigation. Yes, “reasonable suspicion” and all, but on the other hand it is awfully suspicious that both terrorist and you use telephones. Coincidence? Can we really take that chance? If you’ve got nothing to hide, keeps us safe, 9/11, [waves American flag], etc.

  2. 2
    abb3w

    It may be bipartisan, but a 3:2 split in the GOP and 4:3 split within the Democrats seems somwhat short of what I’d call “consensus”.

  3. 3
    Robert B.

    Yeah, I noticed that this split both parties. Not sure what conclusions to draw from that, except I think I like it better than either a real consensus or a partisan vote.

  4. 4
    Trebuchet

    My Democratic congressman (Rick Larsen, 2nd district) voted against the ammendment. Boo!

  5. 5
    Trebuchet

    Oh, for an edit function. That’s Rick Larsen, 2nd District of Washington.

  6. 6
    bumperpuff

    A piece on Wired suggests that campaign contributions by defense contractors might have been an influence.

    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/07/money-nsa-vote/

    Though it could also be that defense contractors are more likely to donate to authoritarian assholes.

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