An amendment to H.R. 6172, a bill that will re-authorize lapsed surveillance powers under FISA would have forced the government to get a warrant before compelling a telecommunication company to hand over browser or internet search history deemed ‘relevant’ to terrorism or counterespionage cases.
A bipartisan measure,the amendment’s co-sponsor Ron Wyden made the case that the average American doesn’t believe they had anything to hide, but the possibilities for abuse are endless. That Attorney General Bill Barr, who has so blatantly injected himself into the political process for the benefit of the administration for their cronies, to be given such power would be terrifying. Just an ocean of potential leverage.
For his part, the Republican co-sponsor of the amendment, Steve Daines, contended that such a power could be used to attack future White House hopefuls, citing the
against the Trump campaign staffers like Starchild Carter Page as reasons to reform FISA.
Anyway, the measure failed 59-37, with 60 votes needed to pass. Senators had to be physically present in order to cast a vote. The four who were not were: Bernie Sanders, Ben Sasse, Lamar Alexander, and Patty Murray. Lamar Alexander was in self-quarantine due to a staffer testing positive for coronavirus.
Here are the Democrats that voted against the amendment!
Carper, Thomas R. (D-DE)
Casey, Robert P., Jr. (D-PA)
Feinstein, Dianne (D-CA)
Hassan, Margaret Wood (D-NH)
Jones, Doug (D-AL)
Kaine, Tim (D-VA)
Manchin, Joe, III (D-WV)
Shaheen, Jeanne (D-NH)
Warner, Mark R. (D-VA)
Whitehouse, Sheldon (D-RI)
Mark Warner’s office cited that the law enforcement and security provisions of the bill were too important to be held up, believing the changes will hold up the bill perhaps permanently in the House. And, as he is Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I’m sure he has his reasons, but it’s not a good look to pass such broad powers onto an administration you know would absolutely abuse them.
Despite the measure’s defeat, it would appear that all is not lost. A separate amendment was proposed by Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Mike Lee of Utah which would include various civil liberties protections among them the role of amicus curiae, which would require a FISA court to appoint one or more individuals with expertise in privacy and civil liberties.
In any case, the bill itself will likely see several revisions on its way to the House, which is, thankfully, no longer controlled by grifters, fascists, and fanatics. So hopefully, hopefully, the end result will be mostly satisfactory. If the Patriot Act has to keep existing, then we might as well fight like hell for a paper thin shield for our privacy.
As we all continue with the various levels of lockdown measures in place please be safe and act responsibly. Maintain your social distance of at least six feet, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and wear a mask in public areas when distancing is not possible. We can all get through this, together.
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