from the funny-how-that-works dept
While there are many bills that have been introduced in Congress in response to the revelations about the NSA (thank you, Ed Snowden), there really are only two that matter right now in terms of actually having a chance of moving forward. One is good, one is terrible. There is the USA FREEDOM Act, introduced in the Senate by Senator Patrick Leahy, which actually tries to rein in many of the abuses. It’s not perfect, but it’s a very good bill. Then there’s the fake reform bill, introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein, officially dubbed the FISA Improvements Act, but which is really designed to legalize the NSA’s abuses and open the door to making it even worse.
It’s no secret that Feinstein is the abused spouse of the NSA, always defending her man, no matter how many times it lies and cheats on her, so I doubt it’s much of a surprise to find that those who stand to benefit from a strong NSA have been contributing boatloads to Senator Feinstein.
The good folks over at MapLight, thought it might be interesting to see how Feinstein’s contributions from intelligence contractors compared to those received by USA FREEDOM Act sponsor Pat Leahy. The answer will not surprise you. Feinstein received three times as much money as Leahy since 2007 (basically a single Senatorial term).
Dept. of Defense Intelligence Services Contractors Contributions to Senator *Feinstein Contributions to Senator Leahy General Dynamics $43,750 $13,300 Northrop Grumman $29,800 $6,000 Lockheed Martin $10,000 $11,000 Honeywell International $10,000 $5,000 **L-3 Communications $6,500 — AECOM $7,000 — $107,050 $35,300
*Not included in the chart is a $250 contribution to Senator Feinstein from Johns Hopkins University, #19 on the USASpending list
**Totals for L-3 Communications Corporations, L-3 National Securities Solutions Inc. and L-3 Communications Holding Inc. were combined for this analysis.
Now, you could easily make the argument that these companies support the politicians most who already support them (i.e., the cause and effect are reversed). But, as Larry Lessig has pointed out time and time again, these kinds of situations are a form of soft corruption that clearly raise significant questions in the mind of the public about why politicians are supporting what they support. Is it because it’s good policy — or is it because of the money. This level of soft corruption has real consequences beyond just policy — it destroys the trust and credibility of the government.