When Congress voted last week to renew the NSA's controversial Section 702 powers, which gives the spy agency the power to conduct mass, secret, warrantless surveillance on Americans, they also voted down a bipartisan amendment that would have limited the president's ability to abuse these powers, injecting the barest minimum of accountability and proportionality into a system that Republican and Democratic presidents alike have abused for decades.
The amendment was voted down because Democrats didn't support it. The same Democrats who show up on the news every night, telling us that Trump is a dangerous authoritarian who can't be trusted, just caved to the "intelligence community" and gave that dangerous authoritarian virtually unlimited powers to spy on every one of us.
The campaign to sabotage the amendment was led by Democratic Congressjerk Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who has repeatedly claimed that Trump is abusing presidential powers to attack Trump's political enemies, including Hillary Clinton. Schiff's campaign to ensure that Trump would face no limits or oversight in his spying power was joined by Nancy Pelosi. 55 Democrats in all ensured that spying powers were renewed and the amendment was voted down, including the loathsome poster-child for corruption Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Steny Hoyer, the second most senior Democrat in the House.
As Lambert Strether writes on Naked Capitalism: "Watch what they do, not what they say."
Not all Democratic politicians were so blithe about giving Trump the a blank surveillance check. Senator Ron Wyden continued his career-spanning, principled commitment to the Fourth Amendment: "This Section 702 bill would give AG Jeff Sessions unchecked power to use this information against Americans. This bill prevents his decisions from EVER being challenged in court." And California Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna wrote, "When @justinamash & @VoteMeadows, chair of the freedom caucus, vote against surveillance, but scores of Democrats vote for it, then its fair to ask what does our party stand for? If we can’t be unified around the principle of civil liberties, then what is the soul of our party?"
Glenn Greenwald gets the last word: "How can anyone rational possibly take seriously all the righteous denunciations from people like Pelosi, Schiff, and Swalwell about how Trump is a lawless, authoritarian tyrant existentially threatening American democracy when those very same people just yesterday voted in favor of vesting him the virtually limitless power to spy on Americans with no warrants or safeguards?"
Cliches are boring to hear, yet often contain truth. That actions speak louder than words is one of those. The next time you see Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, or Eric Swalwell waxing indignantly on cable TV about how Trump is a grave menace to the rule of law and American democracy, focus less on their scripted talking points and more on their actions, beginning with their vote yesterday to vest in him these awesome powers while blocking safeguards and checks. That will tell you all you need to know about who they really are and what they really believe.
(via Naked Capitalism)
(Image: Trump's Hair)