Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Call Your Congress Critters, Stop the Spying

Update 6:58 pm: The House amendment that would have banned the indiscriminate collection of all our phone and internet records was very narrowly defeated minutes ago. Final vote was 217 for continued spying, 205 against.

As one of the C-Span callers pointed out during the phone-in discussion prior to the vote, even if the House and then the Senate had agreed to officially ban spying on Americans, the all-powerful security state would have easily found work-arounds. These people operate with impunity. They always have.

The one positive thing about this vote is that our Congress Critters are now on record for their allegiance or lack thereof to the Fourth Amendment and privacy rights. I'll post their names when I can get them. Then their constituents can decide whether or not they keep their jobs in 2014.

One point of amusement: You will be pleased to know that Tea Party maven Michele Bachmann sided with President Obama on this one, echoing bipartisan fear-mongering for the enrichment of the surveillance state. She very truthfully stated, "National Security is a clear and present danger."


A vote to de-fund the National Security Agency's sweep of
everybody's phone records may be coming as soon as today (h/t Jay and Fred in comments below). To call your reps and urge them to vote for the Amash-Conyers amendment to H.R. 2397, here's the page with all their phone numbers. (Make sure they vote against the red herring of the Nugent Amendment however.) Give them a buzz, and thus help ensure that yours will be among the last records in history ever to be swept up into the NSA dragnet before the money spout that keeps the monstrosity alive is finally turned off. Let's not stop until the entire Patriot Act is repealed.

Barack Obama and his police state henchmen are desperate for this measure not to be passed. Although he usually plays the hapless helpless victim when it comes to Congress, he is acting quite the thug via this White House threat issued last night, warning the People's House that they had best not adhere to the actual will of the people:
In light of the recent unauthorized disclosures, the President has said that he welcomes a debate about how best to simultaneously safeguard both our national security and the privacy of our citizens. The Administration has taken various proactive steps to advance this debate including the President’s meeting with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, his public statements on the disclosed programs, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s release of its own public statements, ODNI General Counsel Bob Litt’s speech at Brookings, and ODNI’s decision to declassify and disclose publicly that the Administration filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. We look forward to continuing to discuss these critical issues with the American people and the Congress.  
However, we oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism tools. This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process. We urge the House to reject the Amash Amendment, and instead move forward with an approach that appropriately takes into account the need for a reasoned review of what tools can best secure the nation.
 Got that, proles? Obama met with some people behind closed doors, so it's all good. Endless talk is his antidote to populist dissent, so how dare representatives play along with mere citizens and actually do their jobs in the public interest for a change? How dare they stop the money that tamps down the populist dissent? This situation calls for obfuscation, not the blunt hammer of truth, says he. Barack Obama has sworn allegiance to the Military-Surveillance complex. Mr. Bipartisanship can't stand the fact that a bipartisan coalition of progressives and libertarians is actually staging a revolt.

All the more ironic that he is giving a speech today purporting to support the middle class.

Because Barack Obama thinks closed-door meetings should trump open Congressional votes. He is not only the anti-Democrat. He is downright anti-Democratic. We have met the enemy, and contrary to what Pogo said, it definitely ain't us.

Stay tuned.....


Jay - Ottawa said...

The Good Book (at least in some passages) and many noble sources from the secular canon urge us never to hate. But maybe loathing falls a notch short of hate is acceptable to the gods. “Loathing” as in abhorrence and disgust.

That’s what the White House keeps stirring up in me – abhorrence and disgust – as I read its latest statement opposing the Amash/Conyers amendment, which is coming up for a vote this afternoon according to a call taker at the Amash office, depending on rules, procedures, blah, blah, blah.

I’ve called or emailed a number of other congressional offices about the Amash/Conyers amendment. Still can’t shake off these waves of loathing. Surely, a successful vote on the amendment would signal real change and bring some relief to the loathing.

This vote could be a biggie in the great sweep of American history – yeah well, at least of this Administration.

Let us not pray for love, brethren. Let us pray that citizens never lose their capacity for abhorrence and disgust. Loathing: try it.

James F Traynor said...

Amash-Conyer didn't make it, but it got a surprising amount of support considering. How about that rumor that Larry Summers is Obama's choice for the Federal Reserve chair? Unbelievable.

Zee said...

Is there a tabulation on-line yet as to how each Congresscritter voted?

I have yet to find one.

annenigma said...

Here's how they voted:

Zee said...


Many thanks! It appears that my personal Congresscritter voted FOR the Amash/Conyers amendment.

I'm shocked! Shocked!

Call Me Cynical said...

For more votes revealing who has voted in support of all these surveillance programs, go to:

Don't read too much into votes on the amendment today. It was a lot of the usual political theater in order to assuage the masses, prevent revolt, and lead us down the primrose path of believing that they actually represent our interests. They don't.

The vast surveillance state has already metastasized throughout our country and the entire world. Why haven't they even filed perjury charges against DNI Admiral Clapper and NSA Director General Alexander for lying to Congress? Too difficult? Member of the intelligence committees have known of their lying to the public for years. Until Congress does that, I'm not buying any of their phoniness. That includes Ron Wyden.

We shouldn't get too excited about someone voting the right way ONCE on an amendment that was strategized to lose. The Whips make sure the members vote according to their party's business needs, with certain vulnerable members allowed to vote in the peoples interests for appearances to increase their chances for re-election in 2014.

Precious few Congressmen had qualms in the past about violating the Constitution, or at least the 1st, 4th, and 5th Amendments, in order to lock up surveillance industry contracts for their districts. They did it for money, not for national security. Any 'fix' will ensure the same. When/if they actually vote to close one surveillance spigot, it will only be because they have found a more lucrative one to take its place, such the booming drone surveillance industry.

Let's not be suckered by fake votes, phony words, and rigged voting for measures intended to fail but which lets them look good trying. They know an election is coming up and so do we. Let's Drop the Duopoly. Change your party registration to independent or anything else except those two money parties, and do it now. We can send a message that they can't rely on our gullibility and loyalty anymore. The jig is up.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Thanks to @Call Me Cynical for the link.

I agree that Congressional votes are sometimes theater, with a specific member's vote permitted/done with an eye to re-election, but the overall tally kept well under control. So I agree that votes for a particular anti-surveillance proposal may not actually mean that much. However, I will assert that a pro-surveillance vote does merit condemnation, particularly when it occurs nowadays, after all the surveillance revelations we have seen.

Ron Barber voted "no" on the Amash-Conyers amendment that attempted to rein-in surveillance, thereby placing himself firmly in the pro-surveillance camp.

But unlike @Zee's reaction to his congresscritter's "yes" vote, I can't say that I'm shocked by Barber's "no".

Either Barber has no courage, as I spoke of in my lengthy blog post back in December 2012, or else he's never met a military-industrial-security-surveillance program that he didn't like. He hasn't been in office very long, but considering the totality of his votes and public statements over his tenure to date, I'm now leaning towards the latter. Barber has been an enthusiastic booster par excellence of programs that clearly advance militarism and/or endanger our liberties, and I have absolutely no use for him as my representative. Going forward, I wouldn't vote for him even if he would whistle "La Marseillaise" through his ass --- which, given his votes and statements, has absolutely no likelihood of occurring.

What a pitiful excuse for a Democratic politician he is. Unfortunately, looking at the roll call and the 83 Democratic "no" votes on the Amash-Conyers amendment, he is far from being alone.

annenigma said...

Good points, Fred. Those No votes are certainly revealing.

In today's piece at the Guardian, Glenn Greenwald says "The sooner the myth of 'intractable partisan warfare' is dispelled, the better. The establishment leadership of the two parties collaborate on far more than they fight. That is a basic truth that needs to be understood."

One of his commenters, dannymega, offered this: 'The reason you only have a two party system in the US, the same in the UK, is because it would be more expensive for big business to sponsor three.' The truth is that they give almost equally to both parties and these votes show exactly why they do that - hedging their bets and investments.

The lesser of two fascist parties is still fascist, and the Democratic Party is certainly the more deceitful, duplicitous, and effectively evil of the two.

I look forward to what happens with Rush Holt's 'The Surveillance State Repeal Act' just introduced.
The lines are being drawn. Now it gets interesting. Thank God for Ed Snowden or we wouldn't be at this point at all.