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S. 754 / H.R. 2029

Privacy and Control: CISA

CISA was reintroduced and passed -- secretly buried in a 2000 page budget bill.

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Calling Darkness Light: Vote Clarifies Who Loves Power More Than Liberty

The amendment to end blanket surveillance failed, a tragic but clarifying result.

by Loyal 9 staff

Amash amendment vote govtrack

source: govtrack.us -- key: blue Dem, red Repub -- see Action Page letter to your representative to see how your rep voted

The amendment to end the NSA's warrantless spying failed 217-205. I am filled with a terrible sadness. Can there be a more cut and dried test of the loyalty of our representatives to the Bill of Rights and to us citizens?

It was black and white. Either due process prevailed in the form of warrants for targeted investigations, or each of our lives is on NSA display -- the monitors in every home depicted in "1984" brought to life. Either we were protected from "the quartering of soldiers in our homes," per the 3rd amendment, or we weren't? Either we have the freedom of association, of speech, of assembly without our every communication collected and our every association, speech, assembly documented, or we don't.

Does it not matter? It does. Gravely. As NYU professor Danah Boyd said in an essay we previously published, "That’s the funny thing about how data is used by our current government. It’s used to create suspicion, not to confirm innocence."

There are actually two good things to come from this. One positive is that 205 representatives did stand up for what is right in this case -- or at least gave in to the pressure to do what is right, whatever other pressure must be on them to strengthen the omnivorous creature of government.

I truly am grateful for the 205 and for the hope that brings that there could be improvement. After all, only three representatives voted against making freedoms of speech and assembly a felony around fed officials just a year ago (those three voters were the sponsor of this amendment, Justin Amash, MI; Ron Paul, TX, Paul Broun, GA).

The other positive is that a line was drawn. Each of us gains some clarity on who our representative really is. Of course, one vote does not tell the whole story; patterns emerge through the votes we track over time; some these reps really messed up on CISPA. But in this case, the vote was one simple, single, isolated, clear issue. There is no hiding this time for the reps behind such lines as "I had to vote that way for the bill over all" or "It's a complex issue and maybe it's not the perfect solution but we can fix it later" or "I didn't have time to read it."

This was one page. It did one thing. It said that the NSA could not mass surveil. Investigators must have a a warrant for a targeted subject, that due process must be followed. It says the constitution must be followed. This is not something that should be necessary, of course. Since when does it take a law to say, "Yes, let's follow the constitution on this one." Yet, 217 representatives voted against it: "No. unh huh. Constitution schmonstitution."

Those that voted against this amendment have no ground to stand on. Their explanations were pathetic and, in fact, highlight their own awareness of what they have done -- their corruption in this process.

They said this amendment was a "blunt process" that made too many big changes. It is clear to seventh grade reader this is not the case. They said the process was too fast, not transparent enough. Huh? Wha? These are the same people that forth a thousand page bill on Friday and demand a vote on Monday?

They said the AMENDMENT isn't constitutional. I can't tell by this point if they are more guilty of treachery, stupidity, or absolute arrogance to think we are so stupid. They said this aids the terrorist and endangers us by taking away a valuable tool. Sponsor Amash points out that with billions of records and billions of dollars spent, the NSA nabbed one cab driver who had sent money to Somalia to a group that proved to be non-threatening.

Of course Benjamin Franklin said it best. "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."


25 Jul 2013
at 02:57PM

Interesting to look at votes of other state's reps as well. http://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/113-2013/h412 . It is telling that the big names we know as power players ALL voted for this: Boehner, Pelosi, Cantor, Forbes, supposedly-conservative Pres hopeful Paul Ryan. The powers like the spying even when they assure no harm.

25 Jul 2013
at 03:14PM

States with all reps voting yes on amendment: CO, NM, SC, TN all but one (and single vote states WY, VT, AK, ND). Worst rep percentage: Illinois, Texas, Ohio, and Indiana.

26 Jul 2013
at 09:41AM

This boils my blood... The only solace in this will be that one day, either on this earth or after, these reps will have to be accountable for their tyranny. Keep the good fight going guys. Love this website so much.

01 Aug 2013
at 12:13PM

I thought the book "1984" was supposed to be a warning, not a freaking instructional manual. It is now clear who believed it to be the second. The majority of U.S citizens are not terrorists, or so I believe, so why waste the time and money spying on them all of them? The true motive isn't to protect us, but to control us.

02 Aug 2013
at 11:47PM

You might consider adding H.R. 2679, The PURSE Act to your leftside panel. It is Representative Cory Gardner's attempt to prevent IRS employees from joining the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU). It's a small but powerful way of taking some of the teeth out of the Administration's personal attack dog.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past.

- Patrick Henry

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