by Jake Anderson, The Anti Media:
Both mainstream political parties introduce their fair share draconian legislation, but in the current bipartisan climate they rarely agree on large issues. Whenever there is agreement between the two parties, you can take it to the bank that it’s something particularly nefarious. Remarkably or not, the two issues Democrats and Republicans have consistently agreed on so far in the 21st century is military intervention and surveillance.
Last week, the House pushed through a six-year extension of the controversial Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act; this week, the Senate followed suit. This provision ensures that under the direction of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Donald Trump, federal law enforcement agencies can arguably eavesdrop on virtually any American with impunity.
While Republicans control both branches of Congress — and the White House — the extension would not have been possible without a sizeable faction of the Democratic Party, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Representative Adam Schiff, voting to hand over dangerously autocratic surveillance powers to Trump. Without this group of House Democrats siding with the Bush/Cheney era law, it would not have passed by a vote of 256-164.
The vote followed the defeat of an amendment that would have introduced safeguards on the government’s ability to conduct warrantless wiretapping on foreign nationals while on foreign soil, which some have argued allows agencies like the FBI and NSA a carte blanche for collecting surveillance on domestic communications. Pelosi and Schiff, who have spent the last year insisting Trump is a dangerous tyrant whose very existence threatens the fabric of our democracy, helped defeat the amendment, which would have restricted his power and paved the way for a Section 702 extension.
Major power brokers of the so-called Resistance entrusted Trump with the legal authority to spy on women, minorities, immigrants, journalists, activists, political enemies — whoever he wants. It was a rare moment of chipper cordiality between bitter political enemies, with Majority Leader Paul Ryan even personally thanking Pelosi for her magnanimous support.
On Thursday, the Senate voted for the extension by a vote of 65-34 following a filibuster that was defeated on Tuesday. Senator Jeff Flake, who has been vocally critical of the president and even compared him to Stalin, nonetheless voted in favor of granting him near dictatorial judicial powers. Now the bill goes to Trump’s desk for final approval. Trump, who has in the past indirectly criticized FISA courts and the ability of “Deep State” operatives from the NSA and other agencies to wiretap without a warrant, predictably reversed course on the issue. Only a year removed from his own alleged wiretapping experience with being surveilled by the Obama Administration while in the Trump tower, the president had a chance to issue a resounding defeat to the entrenched swamp of intelligence agencies. Momentarily, it looked as though he might manufacture a truly insurgent political move. He tweeted:
“House votes on controversial FISA ACT today.” This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 11 January 2018
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