Taking Short Break From Denouncing Trump Authoritarianism, House Dems Join With GOP to 'Violate the Privacy Rights of Everyone in United States'
Despite spending much of the last twelve months denouncing the legitimate threat posed by President Donald Trump’s penchant for authoritarian policies and behavior, 65 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday joined with 191 Republicans in passing a bill that advocates of civil liberties warn will lead to the wholesale violation ‘of privacy rights for everyone in the United States.’
While the final vote on the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 (or S.139)—which included renewal of the controversial Section 702 which allows government agencies to spy on the emails, text messages, and other electronic communications of Americans and foreigners without a warrant—was 256 to 164 in favor of passage, the partisan breakdown revealed that Republicans in the majority needed a great deal of Democratic support in order to have it pass.
“The House voted today to give President Trump and his administration more spying powers,” said Neema Singh Guliani, policy counsel with the ACLU, in a statement following the vote. “The government will use this bill to continue warrantless intrusions into Americans’ private emails, text messages, and other communications.”
And while “no president should have this power,” Guliani continued, “members of Congress just voted to hand it to an administration that has labeled individuals as threats based merely on their religion, nationality, or viewpoints.”
Though Democrats have a long history—including under the previous administration of President Barack Obama—of backing mass surveillance and submitting to the demands of U.S. intelligence agencies, critics point out the hard-to-ignore hypocrisy of those who have endlessly warned against Trump’s authoritarian tendencies with one hand, while supporting these repressive and anti-democratic surveillance powers with the other. As Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, argued in a tweet:
Members of the Democratic Party, Timm elaborated in his NBC News op-ed,
And journalist Adam Johnson made a similar argument in a series of tweets:
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