Today, Senators Russ Feingold and Barack Obama teamed up with eight other senators(Webb, Tester, Biden, Sanders, Kennedy, Menendez, Akaka, and Dodd) offered up an amendment to the rotten FISA Amendments Act, to try to make it a little less rotten. Their amendment included the simple language,
“No communication shall be acquired under this title if the Government knows before or at the time of acquisition that the communication is to or from a person reasonably believed to be located in the United States.”
How could anyone object to this simple guarantee? The amendment by Feingold and Obama even allowed for exemptions from this requirement. If terrorist acts would be reasonably suspected to be involved in the matter, or even if bodily harm against somebody would be involved, the White House spies would get carte blanche to spy against the electronic communications of Americans.
So, all that the Feingold-Obama amendment asked for is that Americans not be targeted for electronic spying, unless there is a threat of terrorism or bodily harm to someone.
Is that too much of a scrap of our former freedom to ask for? The following Democratic senators thought so. They voted against the Feingold Obama amendment.
Evan Bayh of Indiana
Tom Carper of Delaware
Kent Conrad of North Dakota
Dianne Feinstein of California
Daniel Inouye of Hawaii
Tim Johnson of South Dakota
Mary Landrieu of Louisiana
Carl Levin of Michigan
Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas
Barbara Mikulski of Maryland
Bill Nelson of Florida
Ben Nelson of Nebraska
Mark Pryor of Arkansas
John Rockefeller of West Virginia
These senators voted, along with the Republicans, to say that Americans in the United States should be targeted for electronic spying, without a search warrant even if there is no reason to suspect a terrorist threat, and even if there is no threat of bodily harm to anyone. What a sad day it is for the Democratic Party to have politicians like these running the name of Democrat through the mud.
Postscript: Don’t let my focus on the failure of Democratic senators absolve the Republicans in the Senate. Not a single Republican voted for the Feingold-Obama amendment. Except for Senator Lindsey Graham, who was absent, every Republican senator, including presidential candidate John McCain, voted to allow the federal government to use electronic communications networks to spy on American citizens, without any search warrant, even when there is no threat of terrorism involved.