Remember when the Democratic Party called for investigations, hearings, and even impeachment over the illegal wiretapping schemes of the National Security Agency and White House? Well, they just passed a bill that would legalize each one of those illegal infringements on our civil liberties.
The bill is two-pronged: it would allow for the interception of electronic and telephone communications between American citizens and foreigners, and for the monitoring of communications between American citizens and people who are “reasonably believed to be outside of the United States.”
Because the bill is broad and contains no provisions for oversight, it more than allows for government abuse. Intelligence agencies can intercept any communication that they believe is leaving the United States for any reason; all political dissidents are at risk, even those engaged in legally-protected activities.
During the House of Representatives debates, Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (CA) said of the newly-proposed law, This bill would grant the attorney general the ability to wiretap anybody, any place, any time without court review, without any checks and balances.
This new attack on civil liberties should serve as a sharp reminder of the Democrats previous record in power. In the 90s under President Bill Clinton, they substantially expanded the repressive powers of the police and spy agencies.
Wary of a public backlash, Democrats included a six-month sunset clause on the bill, at which time the bill will be revisited and voted on. However, if Congressional Democrats were truly unhappy about the provisions of the bill, they could have fought back not only on the floors of the Senate and the House, but also in the media and through organizing mass opposition outside of Congress.
Their willingness to roll over and let the bill pass, despite their majority in both houses, shows once again that the Democrats are really not the beacon of hope that was promised in November.