The Bizarre Flip-Floppers: 13 Reps Who Voted To Stop Patriot Act Spying 2 Years Ago, But Voted To Continue It Yesterday

from the oddities dept

We’ve already noted that there were quite a few oddities in the group of Representatives who voted against the Amash Amendment yesterday, effectively giving their stamp of approval of the NSA spying on every single American. But, the strangest of all were those who had spoken out against the very same program in the past. We noted a few who had spoken out years ago, but the Long Strange Journey blog noticed that there are 13 Representatives who voted against extending parts of the Patrtiot Act (including the provision that the Amash Amendment sought to clarify to stop mass data collection), but then voted against the amendment yesterday.

In other words, these 13 Representatives had no problem killing off this data collection program two years ago. They didn’t think that ending such a data collection program would put us all at risk or whatever FUD was being spread about why all Americans needed to have their data sucked up by the NSA — but, yesterday it suddenly became so important that they couldn’t vote to stop it? The 2011 vote is here and yesterday’s vote is here. The list is led by Nancy Pelosi, who is generating a lot of disappointment from her constituents who aren’t happy about NSA spying. Two years ago, she led the charge to stop excessive surveillance and to include more privacy protections. When it failed, she made a statement regretting better privacy protections for Americans:

“Today Congress failed to seize the opportunity to enact measures and improvements needed to preserve Americans’ privacy and to incorporate oversight and compliance with the law. In addition, Congress failed to consider meaningful reforms to National Security Letters to address documented abuses. Instead, we were left to vote only on a long extension of some of the most controversial and troubling aspects of the PATRIOT Act.

“Moving forward, we must ensure that we can protect the American people, and protect and defend the Constitution.”

She had a chance to do that yesterday, but she chose the other side. This was almost certainly political. The White House certainly got spooked that the Amash Amendment might pass, and it seems likely that it put tremendous pressure on Pelosi to side with them — and to coax other Democrats to vote with her. Nearly all of the other 12 listed below who voted against extending this provision of the Patriot Act in 2011, but to allow it to continue yesterday, were likely pressured by Pelosi.

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi, California
  • Rep. Eliot Engel, New York
  • Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Illinois
  • Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Florida
  • Rep. Mike Thompson, California
  • Rep. Bob Andrews, New Jersey
  • Rep. Al Green, Texas
  • Rep. Luis Guitierrez, Illinois
  • Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Hawaii
  • Rep. Rick Larsen, Washington
  • Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas
  • Rep. Edith Bernice Johnson, Texas
  • Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Ohio

I would hope that the constituents of these 13 Democrats would reach out to their Representatives and find out why they flip-flopped their vote, from protecting American’s privacy to suddenly having no problem with the NSA collecting all their data. If these 13 had stayed true to their earlier vote, the Amash Amendment would have passed and the NSA collection of all data on Americans would have been stopped.

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Comments on “The Bizarre Flip-Floppers: 13 Reps Who Voted To Stop Patriot Act Spying 2 Years Ago, But Voted To Continue It Yesterday”

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Aztecian says:


I’m old enough to remember when J. Edgar Hoover (hisself) was a hero. I remember learning that in addition to that he had the goods on just about everyone, and that his public persona was a huge farce, and that he was a tyrant and megalomaniac. For all of those years he was spoken of in hushed voices and lauded for enforcing the laws of the nation, he was in fact breaking those laws himself, privately and by abusing his office, and nobody could touch him.

His secret weapon was secrets. Anyone who was aware of the reality behind the public persona was also aware of what J. Edgar might have and could do. Those crazy enough to actually say such things instantly became conspiracy nuts and faded away… we are now left with those who kept their thoughts to themselves running the place.

Now I’m supposed to believe that the NSA is protecting me because they say they are? I don’t think so.

A look at the paragons of virtue on the list of switch hitters tells me volumes. You have it exactly precisely right–if the NSA is not running this country through self serving intimidation they are missing a big bet and wasting a lot of our money.

When it became obvious our DHS was out of control I pulled out the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. When the defense of the NSA against Snowden’s alegations started sounding like Newspeak, I reread “1984”.

I think it’s time for Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire… then maybe “Mein Kampf” and Hitler’s second book (Mein Other Kampf?) and to take a really hard look at Germany in the mid 1930’s.

This all looks too familiar. I think in a few short years all of the folks who are calling the conspiracy theory nuts “conspiracy theory nuts” will be telling everyone how they were on board all the time, much like the vote changers on the list.

It’s amazing. There are some important differences in the way the US is built, intended to avoid this kind of thing… I hope they work.

pixelpusher220 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Even without Hoover and the NSA, our current political environment pretty much guarantees that ‘sane’ and ‘normal’ people will choose not to run for public office.

We’re left with people either so obsessed with being ‘clean’ they aren’t ‘normal’ or so into controlling everything to keep their secrets they might as well be psychopaths.

Neither is a good fit for public office unfortunately and we’re showing it.

out_of_the_blue says:

Not bizarre, standard to vote opposite if sure to pass.

Again, Mike writes in abject ignorance of how the DC game is played: if a noxious bill is sure to pass, the party leader can allow a certain number to split off and appear to vote against party, for future campaign purposes and to make it appear as though real principled opposition even exists. I’m sure that’s the case here.

Take a loopy tour of! You always end up same place!
You’ve found the site of Internet Quipper Mike “Streisand Effect” Masnick! — As you’ll frequently be reminded!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Not bizarre, standard to vote opposite if sure to pass.

“if a noxious bill is sure to pass, the party leader can allow a certain number to split off and appear to vote against party, for future campaign purposes and to make it appear as though real principled opposition even exists. I’m sure that’s the case here.”

Unfortunately, you are likely correct.

Any politician who flips their vote when it’s close is a sellout, and needs to be voted out. Whatever you think they believe, whatever they say they believe… whenever it actually matters, they’re just going to vote however they are told.

But do keep in mind that this is not 100% of politicians. Keep your eye out for signs like this, and try to vote in good people instead.

anonymouse says:


Can we at last realise that there are power that be that are basically forcing representatives to vote against what they believe. Seriously would like to know what these 13 politicians have to say for themselves, but they will probably say that they have secret information regarding the vote that the public is not aware of, seriously when politicians start using that line they need to be kicked out and anything they say ignored, they become irrelevant if they do not vote what people had put them in a position of power to vote..

Anonymous Coward says:

Especially stupid timing for Colleen Hanabusa to vote the wrong way, since she’s NOT running for her safe house seat in 2014. She’s running for the senate, in a fierce primary battle against another democrat who was appointed to the position.

She just gave her opponent a great weapon to use, to paint himself as the guy who opposes mass surveillance of all Americans.

Wally (profile) says:

Something else in common...

This is wholly political. A group of Republicans and Democrats came together to write up Amash Amendment.

Nancy Pelosi flip flopping like this makes me wonder what her and those particular Representatives are hiding. I find it highly fascinating that those states just happen to be the ones who reported issues with their e-voting machines.

Anonymous Coward says:

Not how bills work...

If these 13 had stayed true to their earlier vote, the Amash Amendment would have passed and the NSA collection of all data on Americans would have been stopped.

That’s not what would have happened unfortunately. The amendment would have likely died in the senate or absolutely would have been vetoed by President Obama. All this would have done is send a message, not change anything (short-term).

Fred says:

Re: Not how bills work...

This would have defunded the program, and killed the NSA and they knew it. General Alexander knew this and that is why he called a “closed meeting” to explain to these congress critters . “Look this is what we have on you and …wham they voted the other way. Remember… War is Peace and peace is War!!!

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: Not how bills work...

When you strip funding on a governmental scale…it means you have to work with less money and deal with what you’ve got.

However…I too am starting to believe the NSA is blackmailing as well…which is not illegal to do in the US.

The other thing you may want to look at is how politically polar Nancy Pelosi is…..she’s been known to push other Democrats to do as she does. She was most famously known for it among her peers in 2010 when she was Speaker of the House and Majority Leader.

[citation needed or GTFO] says:

Re: Blackmail

Or since this is the internet, find the information that the NSA has on these people, post it publicly for everyone to see, and watch as they initially scramble and panic before realizing that they have nothing to fear from blackmail anymore.

After all, once the information that’s been secret is suddenly made public, the NSA’s leverage is gone, right?

Doug Diggler says:

Congress rolls over for NSA

No doubt the NSA has blackmailable material on each of these hacks. They must all be removed. Congress can either reinstitute the Bill of RIghts or dissolve itself, otherwise it has clearly ceded legitimacy and needs to be replaced by a body of people who care about the US Constitution, like these a$$clowns swore to defend and uphold.

rlo says:

Always political. Never whether something is Constitutionally supported. The Constitution has become just a noun they throw out once in a while with the most loose interpretations imaginable. Pols can twist words to mean whatever they want as long as people allow them tog et away with it. Nancy could be caught on TV robbing a bank with a gun and shw would still get re-elected by SF constituents.

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