New York State Governor David Paterson has picked U.S. Representative Kirsten Gillibrand to replace Hillary Clinton in the United States Senate. Gillibrand is someone who’s never represented the entire state of New York, as Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has, and she will now serve in the Senate without having been elected there after having been appointed by a Governor who was not elected to that job.
Given that, Gillibrand will deserve special watching. Now, it just so happens that we at Irregular Times have been watching Congresswoman Gillibrand for the last couple of years, as we’ve been watching all members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and tracking their votes and cosponsorships on key legislation.
Actually, the last two years is all we’ve had to watch Gillibrand in Congress – she was elected only in 2006. She’s more experienced than Caroline Kennedy, but clearly, experience is not her strongest qualification for the Senate. Those who watch New York politics know that Gillibrand is very skilled at forming political alliances, however.
One stand from Gillibrand’s time in the Senate is particularly troubling: Her support for the FISA Amendments Act.
The FISA Amendments Act gives the Attorney General the power to conduct physical and electronic searches against whomever he chooses, without a search warrant, and without obtaining the permission even of the judges on the secret courts created by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under the FISA Amendments Act, even if the Attorney General’s spying is determined to have illegally tracked the private activities and conversations of law-abiding American citizens who are not suspected of any crime, nobody court has the power to stop the Attorney General from keeping and using the information obtained through that spying. That information can even be used as evidence against Americans in a court of law.
When Kirsten Gillibrand voted in favor of the FISA Amendments Act, she showed disdain for the guarantee in the Bill of Rights of protection from unreasonable search and seizure. Gillibrand failed to uphold the Constitution in 2008 – will she fail it again as a United States Senator?