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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

 
The pro-constitution campaign 2014

by digby

Politico reports:
Edward Snowden’s leaks didn’t just cause turmoil in the U.S. intelligence community, prompt international backlash toward President Barack Obama and revive a debate in Congress over civil liberties.

They spawned a whole new breed on the 2014 campaign trail: The anti-National Security Agency candidate.
Really? Is that what they are? Only insular Villagers would think that's what this is about. No, they are not "anti-National Security Agency" candidates, they are pro-civil liberties candidates --- or perhaps more accurately pro-constitution candidates.

Nobody is against the NSA in the abstract. It's been around for a long time and serves an important function. Why even that commie traitor Edward Snowden defends the agency's mission. The problem is that it is gathering personal information on everyone and storing it just in case the government might need it some day. That's a big no-no under the 4th Amendment, which says that the government needs probable cause to seize personal communications. Up until now Americans thought that it was a bad idea for the government to keep dossiers on everyone. Had just a whiff of authoritarianism if you know what I mean.

But, regardless of Politico's typically obtuse understanding of the issue, they are correct that we will see some races in which this issue will be debated. One I'm particularly interested in is the Senate race in Maine featuring former head of Maine ACLU Shenna Bellows challenging the bucket of lukewarm water named Susan Collins:
The Democratic candidate didn’t think much about running for Senate against the popular GOP Sen. Susan Collins — until the aftermath of the Snowden revelations prompted tougher restrictions on warrantless surveillance on the state level that she now wants to replicate in Washington. Bellows wants an end to the NSA’s bulk data collection program, along with the PATRIOT Act. She argues the country needs stronger whistleblower protections. She even believes Snowden deserves clemency.

“Constitutional freedoms is how I win the race,” said the 38-year-old Bellows, who headed the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine for eight years and now faces a very steep climb to catch Collins. “I think the erosion of constitutional freedoms exemplifies how Washington has become out of touch with some of the values that we share as communities.”

"She even believes Snowden deserves clemency." Burn the heretic!!!

In a phone interview from Maine, Collins rebutted criticism that she has not done enough to protect against civil liberties, highlighting legislation she co-sponsored in 2004 that created the independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Board and her support for recent proposals to tighten oversight over the surveillance programs. But, she said, doing away with the ability of the government to collect phone records would cause great harm to the country’s ability to root out terrorism.

“We know that there were plots thwarted solely or partially by the programs, so doing away with it altogether would mean a less safe America,” said Collins, who sits on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and has supported the PATRIOT Act and legislation codifying broader electronic surveillance.
Actually, it hasn't thwarted any plots and Collins should know that since the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board (which she was instrumental in creating) just issued a report saying so after reviewing all the documents. A profile in courage on this, she's not.

The article goes on to discuss other races where the issue is coming up. I personally doubt it's going to be a driver of votes --- average folks have more immediate problems on their minds. But campaigns are one of the primary ways to politicians can educate the public about issues and I'm glad to see candidates debating this. Over time we may see that politicians will not be punished for taking a principled stand in favor of the constitution after all.

Shenna Bellows is a great candidate by the way. Blue America has endorsed her if you'd like to contribute to her campaign. We need some more strong civil libertarians in the US Senate. Lord knows the National Security State is already very well represented.

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