25 July 2013

by 

The New American


Vote on Amash Amendment Reveals Ruse of Two-Party System

For all those who still believe that Republican=Constitutionalist and Democrat=Liberty-hating liberal, something happened on Capitol Hill that might change your mind.

As was reported by The New American, the House of Representatives narrowly defeated an amendment to the defense appropriations sponsored by Republican congressman Justin Amash (shown) of Michigan and Democratic congressman John Conyers, also of Michigan.

The Amash Amendment would have revoked authority “for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act. It would also bar the NSA and other agencies from using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records, including telephone call records, that pertain to persons who are not subject to an investigation under Section 215” of the Patriot Act.

Despite the threat to the Establishment (or perhaps because of it), Amash’s measure failed by a vote of 205-217.

It’s the identity of the “ayes” and “nays” that tells the rest of the story.

An analysis of the roll call reveals that a majority of Democrats voted in favor of restricting the Obama administration’s wholesale surveillance of Americans, while a majority of the GOP voted to uphold the NSA’s unconstitutional surveillance of all electronic communications.

Though the final tally was close, the fix was in. In a rare demonstration of meddling in the making of the legislative sausage, the White House issued a statement warning, in not-so-elegant language, that a vote for the Amash amendment was a vote for terrorism.

In a statement published on the White House website, press secretary Jay Carney said, referring to the Amash amendment, “In light of the recent unauthorized disclosures, the President has said that he welcomes a debate about how best to simultaneously safeguard both our national security and the privacy of our citizens.”

Does the president really “welcome a debate?” By their fruits ye shall know them.

Ever since the documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden shined the light of disclosure into the shadowy activities of the surveillance apparatus that has categorized every citizen as a suspect, the White House has ferociously and rabidly attacked Snowden. Perhaps nicotine wipes the short-term memory and the president has forgotten calling Snowden a “traitor” and calling for him to be held accountable for the harm he caused national security.

In the spirit of bipartisanship, however, it’s not as if Republicans fell over each other standing up for the Constitution and the oaths they swore to uphold it.

The list of Republicans joining of the chorus of voices calling a vote for the Amash amendment a vote for radical Islam is impressive and instructive.

Representative Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) voted against his colleague from the Wolverine State, protecting the power of the NSA to snoop on anyone at anytime for any reason.

And, how about Tea Party darling Representative Michele Bachman (R-Minn.)? She stood up against liberty, warning her fellow Republicans that if the federal government’s surveillance power was curtailed, “Islamic jihad” would go unchecked, leaving the homeland vulnerable to the attacks of al-Qaeda and its associates.

Amash rightly regards the threat from the extremists on the Potomac to be greater than that posed by those on the Tigris and Euphrates. Besides, Amash tweeted, the government doesn’t fear Muslim terrorists, “they fear you.”

Democrats — again, don’t be surprised by this — defended Amash, lining up behind the young constitutionalist.

Representative Conyers, according to Glen Greenwald, “stood to denounce the NSA program as illegal, unconstitutional and extremist.” This statement echoes an earlier one issued last month by the 24-term Democrat. On June 24, Conyers said:

It is unfortunate that so much of Congress and the media’s focus is on the whereabouts of Edward Snowden. We should focus our time and attention on ensuring that law-abiding Americans are not unnecessarily subject to intrusive surveillance; making sure our media organizations are not targeted merely for informing the public; closing Guantanamo and releasing those individuals who pose us no harm; and demanding that legal safeguards are in place with respect to our government’s shortsighted use of drones. These are the overriding, critical issues facing the Congress, not the whereabouts or motives of Edward Snowden.

That’s a much more constitutionally sound statement than those issued by most self-described “conservatives.”

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) was the poster child of bipartisan support of the surveillance state. His vote virtually ensured that those in his party jockeying for future leadership nods would follow suit, even at the expense of the Fourth Amendment and the liberties it protects.

“I voted last night because these NSA programs have helped keep Americans safe,” Boehner said, after the vote.

“There are, in my view, ample safeguards to protect the privacy of the American people," he said. "And I know how these programs have worked. I know how they've worked to protect the American people and I felt very strongly about it,” he added.

Boehner’s Democratic counterpart, Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was a little less enthusiastic about her support for the spreading of the surveillance dragnet.

“I don't want anybody to misunderstand a vote against the Amash resolution yesterday,” Pelosi said.

Nobody misunderstands, Ms. Pelosi. A vote against the Amash amendment was a vote in favor of the unwarranted, unconscionable, unconstitutional monitoring of every electronic communication of every American in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment guarantees:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The battle is not over, however. By steadfastly and fearlessly opposing the Establishment (remember: This surveillance program is neither a Democrat/Republican thing nor is it a creation of the Obama administration), Amash positions himself as the legislative lodestone of liberty. His determination has highlighted the false major-party dialectic that is still the popular view held by so many Americans.

As Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com wrote:

In the aftermath of the Amash Rebellion, there are two new parties in Congress: the authoritarians and the Americans. The vote on Rep. Justin Amash’s LIBERT-E Act, which would have gutted the National Security Agency’s phone records dragnet, drew a clear line of demarcation that will only widen in the coming months as civil libertarians continue their push to roll back the Surveillance State.

Americans determined to defend the Constitution and the bedrock of individual liberty upon which it was built must remember, however, that there is much work to be done.

The Amash Amendment, as valiant and necessary as it was, did not, for example, do anything to undo the PRISM program.

PRISM, readers will remember, the NSA, and the FBI are “tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person's movements and contacts over time,” as reported by the Washington Post and the Guardian (U.K.).

This particular weapon of mass collection relies on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for justification of the surveillance of Internet activity. Amash’s amendment made no mention of Section 702 and thus would have left PRISM completely intact.

Whether a federal lawmaker takes on the task of demolishing the entire surveillance skyscraper remains to be seen. That sort of Quixotic endeavor requires a stiff spine and a political abandon that few denizens of the Potomac possess.

What is certain, however, is that the members of the party of power — whether identified by an R or D after their name — will continue colluding with the executive and judiciary branches to protect the authority amassed in the name of safety.

Photo of Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.): AP Images




FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 412
(Republicans in roman; Democrats in italic; Independents underlined)


      H R 2397      RECORDED VOTE      24-Jul-2013      6:51 PM
      AUTHOR(S):  Amash of Michigan Amendment No. 100
      QUESTION:  On Agreeing to the Amendment

  Ayes Noes PRES NV
Republican 94 134   6
Democratic 111 83   6
Independent        
TOTALS 205 217   12


---- AYES    205 ---

 

Amash
Amodei
Bachus
Barton
Bass
Becerra
Bentivolio
Bishop (UT)
Black
Blackburn
Blumenauer
Bonamici
Brady (PA)
Braley (IA)
Bridenstine
Broun (GA)
Buchanan
Burgess
Capps
Capuano
Cárdenas
Carson (IN)
Cartwright
Cassidy
Chabot
Chaffetz
Chu
Cicilline
Clarke
Clay
Cleaver
Clyburn
Coffman
Cohen
Connolly
Conyers
Courtney
Cramer
Crowley
Cummings
Daines
Davis, Danny
Davis, Rodney
DeFazio
DeGette
DeLauro
DelBene
DeSantis
DesJarlais
Deutch
Dingell
Doggett
Doyle
Duffy
Duncan (SC)
Duncan (TN)
Edwards
Ellison
Eshoo
Farenthold
Farr
Fattah
Fincher
Fitzpatrick
Fleischmann
Fleming
Fudge
Gabbard
Garamendi
Gardner
Garrett
Gibson
Gohmert
Gosar
Gowdy
Graves (GA)
Grayson
Green, Gene
Griffin (AR)
Griffith (VA)
Grijalva
Hahn
Hall
Harris
Hastings (FL)
Holt
Honda
Huelskamp
Huffman
Huizenga (MI)
Hultgren
Jeffries
Jenkins
Johnson (OH)
Jones
Jordan
Keating
Kildee
Kingston
Labrador
LaMalfa
Lamborn
Larson (CT)
Lee (CA)
Lewis
Loebsack
Lofgren
Lowenthal
Lujan Grisham (NM)
Luján, Ben Ray (NM)
Lummis
Lynch
Maffei
Maloney, Carolyn
Marchant
Massie
Matsui
McClintock
McCollum
McDermott
McGovern
McHenry
McMorris Rodgers
Meadows
Mica
Michaud
Miller, Gary
Miller, George
Moore
Moran
Mullin
Mulvaney
Nadler
Napolitano
Neal
Nolan
Nugent
O'Rourke
Owens
Pascrell
Pastor (AZ)
Pearce
Perlmutter
Perry
Petri
Pingree (ME)
Pocan
Poe (TX)
Polis
Posey
Price (GA)
Radel
Rahall
Rangel
Ribble
Rice (SC)
Richmond
Roe (TN)
Rohrabacher
Ross
Rothfus
Roybal-Allard
Rush
Salmon
Sánchez, Linda T.
Sanchez, Loretta
Sanford
Sarbanes
Scalise
Schiff
Schrader
Schweikert
Scott (VA)
Sensenbrenner
Serrano
Shea-Porter
Sherman
Smith (MO)
Smith (NJ)
Southerland
Speier
Stewart
Stockman
Swalwell (CA)
Takano
Thompson (MS)
Thompson (PA)
Tierney
Tipton
Tonko
Tsongas
Vela
Velázquez
Walz
Waters
Watt
Waxman
Weber (TX)
Welch
Williams
Wilson (SC)
Yarmuth
Yoder
Yoho
Young (AK)

---- NOES    217 ---

 

Aderholt
Alexander
Andrews
Bachmann
Barber
Barr
Barrow (GA)
Benishek
Bera (CA)
Bilirakis
Bishop (GA)
Bishop (NY)
Boehner
Bonner
Boustany
Brady (TX)
Brooks (AL)
Brooks (IN)
Brown (FL)
Brownley (CA)
Bucshon
Butterfield
Calvert
Camp
Cantor
Capito
Carney
Carter
Castor (FL)
Castro (TX)
Cole
Collins (GA)
Collins (NY)
Conaway
Cook
Cooper
Costa
Cotton
Crawford
Crenshaw
Cuellar
Culberson
Davis (CA)
Delaney
Denham
Dent
Diaz-Balart
Duckworth
Ellmers
Engel
Enyart
Esty
Flores
Forbes
Fortenberry
Foster
Foxx
Frankel (FL)
Franks (AZ)
Frelinghuysen
Gallego
Garcia
Gerlach
Gibbs
Gingrey (GA)
Goodlatte
Granger
Graves (MO)
Green, Al
Grimm
Guthrie
Gutiérrez
Hanabusa
Hanna
Harper
Hartzler
Hastings (WA)
Heck (NV)
Heck (WA)
Hensarling
Higgins
Himes
Hinojosa
Holding
Hoyer
Hudson
Hunter
Hurt
Israel
Issa
Jackson Lee
Johnson (GA)
Johnson, E. B.
Johnson, Sam
Joyce
Kaptur
Kelly (IL)
Kelly (PA)
Kennedy
Kilmer
Kind
King (IA)
King (NY)
Kinzinger (IL)
Kirkpatrick
Kline
Kuster
Lance
Langevin
Lankford
Larsen (WA)
Latham
Latta
Levin
Lipinski
LoBiondo
Long
Lowey
Lucas
Luetkemeyer
Maloney, Sean
Marino
Matheson
McCarthy (CA)
McCaul
McIntyre
McKeon
McKinley
McNerney
Meehan
Meeks
Meng
Messer
Miller (FL)
Miller (MI)
Murphy (FL)
Murphy (PA)
Neugebauer
Noem
Nunes
Nunnelee
Olson
Palazzo
Paulsen
Payne
Pelosi
Peters (CA)
Peters (MI)
Peterson
Pittenger
Pitts
Pompeo
Price (NC)
Quigley
Reed
Reichert
Renacci
Rigell
Roby
Rogers (AL)
Rogers (KY)
Rogers (MI)
Rooney
Ros-Lehtinen
Roskam
Royce
Ruiz
Runyan
Ruppersberger
Ryan (OH)
Ryan (WI)
Schakowsky
Schneider
Schwartz
Scott, Austin
Scott, David
Sessions
Sewell (AL)
Shimkus
Shuster
Simpson
Sinema
Sires
Slaughter
Smith (NE)
Smith (TX)
Smith (WA)
Stivers
Stutzman
Terry
Thompson (CA)
Thornberry
Tiberi
Titus
Turner
Upton
Valadao
Van Hollen
Vargas
Veasey
Visclosky
Wagner
Walberg
Walden
Walorski
Wasserman Schultz
Webster (FL)
Wenstrup
Westmoreland
Whitfield
Wilson (FL)
Wittman
Wolf
Womack
Woodall
Young (FL)
Young (IN)

---- NOT VOTING    12 ---

 

Barletta
Beatty
Bustos
Campbell
Coble
Herrera Beutler
Horsford
McCarthy (NY)
Negrete McLeod
Pallone
Rokita
Schock