The Tide In Congress Has Shifted Against NSA Surveillance
from the it's-not-going-to-last dept
The NY Times has a detailed look at how the momentum in Congress is clearly against the excessive surveillance by the NSA, even if the Amash amendment didn't pass. It notes that when the amendment was first proposed, most felt that only "wingnuts" would vote for it. Then nearly half of the House did... and many who didn't are making it clear that the program needs to change.
On Friday, Ms. Pelosi, the House minority leader and a veteran of the Intelligence Committee, and Mr. Hoyer dashed off a letter to the president warning that even those Democrats who had stayed with him on the issue on Wednesday would be seeking changes.Similarly, the Washington Post is also noting that reform of the NSA programs is "inevitable" at this point. It highlights a proposal from Rep. Adam Schiff to create a pool of attorneys who will represent "the other side" in FISA court hearings, so that there's at least some sort of adversarial hearing. However, the article then notes that there are a ton of different proposals being introduced to scale back the NSA's efforts:
That letter included the signature of Mr. Conyers, who is rallying an increasingly unified Democratic caucus to his side, as well as 61 House Democrats who voted no on Wednesday but are now publicly signaling their discontent.
“Although some of us voted for and others against the amendment, we all agree that there are lingering questions and concerns about the current” data collection program, the letter stated.
Indeed — whatever the chances of Schiff’s proposal — what is striking is the myriad of different angles from which lawmakers are now trying to chip away at this once seemingly impregnable NSA surveillance monolith. There is the proposal to require the FISA court to declassify key opinions authorizing surveillance, which is backed by at least a dozen Senators, including (ostensibly) by some Dem leaders. There is another proposal to require Senate confirmation of FISA court judges. Senator Richard Blumenthal has also suggested several other ideas designed to bring transparency to the FISA court proceeding and provide for outside groups to weigh in before the court authorizes the government’s request.And there are more coming beyond that as well. Basically, it's becoming quite clear that Congress isn't going to let this slide. All of this brings to mind two key points:
- For all the Ed Snowden bashing going on among officials, his whistleblowing is going to create at least some sort of change. Whether it goes far enough is still yet to be determined, but the leaks clearly were not ignored and are having a very, very real impact. I still find it difficult to see how those in Congress who are supportive of reforming the surveillance efforts are still attacking Snowden. If he wasn't whistleblowing, then why are they now (finally) eager to change the program? Clearly, he was exposing abuse -- abuse which even those in Congress now admit is a problem.
- This also highlights the other big lie from major defenders of the program, in which they like to suggest that everyone in Congress was aware of and approved these surveillance programs. That clearly is not true. If that was the case, Congress wouldn't be quite so willing to change things. Yes, there is the cynical truth that some who probably did know and did support it are now changing their tune once they've realized that the public isn't so happy about this, but that's really yet another reason why such secrecy is a problem. Congress is supposed to represent the people, and now that the public is making it clear that they're not happy, Congress is moving to (try to) fix these programs.