Monday :: Aug 6, 2007

Democrats' Selective Surrender On Data Mining

by Steve

As Paradox and Erin noted over the weekend, congressional Democrats decided against mounting a significant challenge to Bush’s electronic surveillance program, and passed a bill desired by the president that grants the chief executive far greater warrant less powers to monitor electronic communications or transactions than existed before. As both of them noted, somehow both Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid allowed themselves to get pushed up against a calendar without seeing this coming by setting the negatives against what in reality has little to do with eavesdropping on foreigners but rather with Congress’s unspoken acquiescence to a massive data mining operation that will scoop up all Americans regardless of whether or not they are suspected of anything.

Erin noted correctly that most of the Democrats who voted with House Republicans to endorse this warrant less data mining effort are Blue Dog, red-state Democrats who can not only be expected to check their concerns for civil liberties at the door and salute at the first sign of fear-mongering, but who the White House knew could be counted on for this scam. Truth be told, if asked Americans are not against warrant less surveillance of foreigners' communications, because that's the way it is presented to them. Not many pollsters ask if Americans are against a massive data-mining program whereby the government acquires Americans’ personal data without a warrant or without that citizen being suspected of anything, but that is exactly what the Blue Dog Democrats just endorsed notwithstanding the claims to the contrary by the “senior intelligence official” quoted in the Post piece. If the administration was so certain that there will be no data mining of innocent Americans here to run this massive NSA program, then why does the "senior intelligence official" not say this publicly and for the record?

As Erin said, the political solution here is to go into those districts and run a real progressive alternative to put the Blue Dog on the defensive for this suspension of the Constitution and their likely cave in this fall on curtailing the Iraq war before 2009. Because make no mistake about it, by agreeing to pass a defense department budget without Iraq language in it, and instead putting off that battle until the 2008 supplemental, a tactic that has already failed against the White House, why would anyone expect this Democratic House to prevail this fall?

But something else is at play here. Both Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi knew they didn’t have the votes to stop Bush here, but it also seems that neither of them tried very hard to tell the American people that this really was about data mining and use that club against Republicans. Perhaps both of them decided that they wanted to move this issue off the table for 2008, in an all-too-familiar Beltway Democrat tactic of selective surrender. But by doing this, Democrats have now taken ownership of these transgressions against innocent American citizens. Any howls of outrage by the Democratic leadership about data mining and warrant less searches against American citizens are nothing but hollow rants by leaders who should look in the mirror.

Steve :: 8:03 AM :: Comments (9) :: Digg It!