Even in our polarized and right vs. left political paradigm, there is one thing both republicans and democrats can agree on: The federal government should have vast snooping powers and conduct mass surveillance on everyone. They simply disagree over who should be in charge of abusing those excessive powers.
The impeachment circus did one thing successfully. It took attention from the government’s mass surveillance programs that are constantly expanded. As Reason proposed: If Democrats really feared Donald Trump’s exercise of the powers of the presidency, why would they propose extending the surveillance powers of the controversial Patriot Act?
House Democrats have successfully slipped an unqualified renewal of the draconian PATRIOT Act into an emergency funding bill – voting near-unanimously for sweeping surveillance carte blanche that was the basis for the notorious NSA program.
Buried on the next-to-last page of the Continuing Appropriations Act, meant to keep the government’s lights on and dated yesterday, is the following language:
Section 102(b)(1) of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 (50 U.S.C. 101805 note) is amended by striking “December 15, 2019” and inserting “March 15, 2020”.
This relatively innocuous language pushes back the sunset provision of the Patriot Act by three months, leaving its vast powers in the hands of a president who Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden charges with “failure to uphold basic democratic principles,” who House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has accused of “alarming connections and conduct with Russia” and, joined by Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, says is making an attempt to “shred the Constitution.” –Reason
If democrats honestly believed that Trump was all of the things he’s being accused of, why trust him with the Patriot Act?
The American Civil Liberties Union agrees, calling the Patriot Act “an overnight revision of the nation’s surveillance laws that vastly expanded the government’s authority to spy on its own citizens, while simultaneously reducing checks and balances on those powers like judicial oversight, public accountability, and the ability to challenge government searches in court.”
Attempts to roll back the spying powers of the government have all failed. This power is only expanding and it’s going to get harder for people to protect themselves against the government when they abuse this power. The last time (in 2018) libertarian-leaning Republicans and a handful of Democrats wanted to strip the government of some of its mass surveillance power, it failed.
“It became quickly apparent that leading Democrats intended to side with Trump and against those within their own party who favored imposing safeguards on the Trump administration’s ability to engage in domestic surveillance,” The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald wrote at the time. “The most bizarre aspect of this spectacle was that the Democrats who most aggressively defended Trump’s version of the surveillance bill—the Democrats most eager to preserve Trump’s spying powers as virtually limitless—were the very same Democratic House members who have become media stars this year by flamboyantly denouncing Trump as a treasonous, lawless despot in front of every television camera they could find.”