GOP Senators Outdo Presidential Democrats On Data Mining
Over the last few years, we’ve done our best to follow the flood of information about the Bush Administration’s programs to spy on the private activities of American citizens using data mining techniques. From the transfer of Total Information Awareness into the National Security Agency under codenames like topsail and basketball, through warrantless wiretape, seizures of massive amounts of cell phone and email records, and even the systematic entry of innocent Americans’ DNA into gigantic government databases, we have seen a dramatic effort by the government to watch over the most personal aspects of Americans’ lives. Thanks to these secretive government programs, Americans can no longer assume that their postal mail, email, phone calls, commercial activity, and other kinds of personal activity are at all private.
Through it all, there has been almost no congressional oversight. Now, a few senators are asking for that to change. Two bills have been introduced this year that would force the White House to cooperate with efforts by Congress to gain oversight of the growing network of government databases used to spy on Americans. The bills, S. 236 and S. 495 (entitled the Federal Agency Data Mining Reporting Act of 2007 and the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2007, respectively), are co-sponsored by a small group of senators:
Federal Agency Data Mining Reporting Act
Personal Data Privacy and Security Act
The more observant among you will notice something about the list of co-sponsors for these bills: Both bills have the co-sponsorship of a Republican senator - John Sununu in the case of S. 236 and Arlen Specter in the case of S. 495. S. 495 also has the support of an independent senator, Bernard Sanders.
However, not a single one of the four Democratic senators who are running for President of the United States in 2008 have co-sponsored either of these bills.
The upshot is that, although these four senators are running around America trying to persuade Democrats that they will undo the Bush Administration’s right wing agenda, they have failed to do so in their current jobs in the United States Senate. Even worse, they have been outperformed in this regard by two Republican senators. Senators Sununu and Specter are more progressive in their action on government surveillance databases than Senators Biden, Clinton, Dodd, and Obama.
This failure serves as yet another reminder that progressive voters in 2008 need to refine their focus away from just electing a Democrat instead of a Republican. The Democratic Party needs to be reformed, so that Democratic politicians stop moving toward the right and failing to act against abusive Republican policies. We need to be conscientious in distinguishing Democrat politicians who act progressively from those who fail to do so, and vote accordingly in 2008.
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