Time was, when you wanted to protect constitutional rights against unwarranted surveillance, search and seizure in America, you would look to Democrats in Congress. Sure, some conservative Blue Dog Democrats would vote to give the government Big Brother powers, but most Democrats weren’t like that. A majority of Democrats in the House voted against the FISA Amendments Act, and in fact 99.2% of the opponents of the FISA Amendments Act in that vote were Democrats.
But flash forward to this year. H.R. 637, the Preserving American Privacy Act, is a bill that would require the government to obtain a warrant before using drones to track people in private areas, and further require the government to notify the public when it is tracking people in public areas. Sounds downright ACLUish, doesn’t it? Well, guess what: Representative Zoe Lofgren is a cosponsor of that bill. She’s a Democrat. And she’s the only Democrat who has come out in support of the bill.
There are seven supporters of the Preserving American Privacy Act. Six of them, including Republican Representative Ted Poe, are Republicans. On February 13 2013, preparing to introduce his legislation, Ted Poe spoke on the floor of the House:
"Mr. Speaker, the domestic use of drones is on the way. There will be more eyes in the sky looking over America.
According to the FAA, by 2015, it will allow the use of drones nationwide, and by 2030, 30,000 drones will be cruising American skies--looking, observing, filming, and hovering over America. They will come whether we like it or not. We will not know where they are or what they're looking at or what their purpose is, whether it's permitted or not permitted, whether it's lawful or unlawful, and we really won't know who is flying those drones.
Sometimes drones are good. We can thank drones for helping us track terrorists overseas and for helping us catch outlaws on the border. Legitimate uses by government and private citizens do occur, but a nosy neighbor or a Big Brother government does not have the right to look into a window without legitimate cause or, in the case of government, probable cause."
Time was, a Democrat would have said that. Now it’s a Republican talking about Americans’ rights.
That’s not fair, you’re thinking. There’s another bill against drone surveillance before the Congress, an alternative, you’re saying to yourself. I should link to that one, you’re thinking.
That’s right. There is one other bill before the Congress about drones. It’s H.R. 972, the Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act. It’s been introduced by Austin Scott — a Georgia Republican.