Consider some of the other Democratic luminaries in the House who voted against the Amash amendment: The Democratic National Committee's chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's former chair Chris Van Hollen. The DCCC's current chair, Steve Israel.
Some of the other Democrats who voted no on the Amash amendment include progressive-aura lawmakers like Ami Bera (Calif.), Joaquin Castro (Texas), Luis Gutierrez (Ill.), Marcy Kaptur (Ohio), Joe Kennedy (Mass.), Annie Kuster (N.H.), Nita Lowey (N.Y.) and Louise Slaughter (N.Y.)
Deserving special mention for their deplorable votes against Amash's amendment are Sheila Jackson Lee from Houston and Jan Schakowsky from Chicago. Both are vice chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
I've been critical of the Progressive Caucus for enabling Obama's rightward moves by doing scant pushback. But credit where due: on Wednesday , aside from Jackson Lee and Schakowsky, the other six officers of the Progressive Caucus and a large majority of its more than 70 members supported the Amash amendment. Eloquence in the floor debate came from John Conyers (the lead co-sponsor of the Amash amendment), Jared Polis, Zoe Lofgren and Jerrold Nadler.
Yet they were no match for the White House, with its media spin machine and behind-the-curtain arm twisting.
President Obama has a firm grip on levers of power, and anyone who thinks that his administration has been chastened enough to tread more carefully on civil liberties is engaged in wishful thinking.
While the House has grown somewhat restive, the Senate has remained notably pliant for the surveillance state. An egregious -- and, for some, surprising -- example is Al Franken, who declared his support for the NSA surveillance program when news of it broke in early June. "I can assure you, this is not about spying on the American people," Franken said. From his Senate office, one press release after another has been packed with blather like overstuffed sausages.
Franken is now saying he'll introduce a bill for "transparency" because the public will support the current surveillance programs if they grasp what's really involved: " I think that if there were greater transparency, Americans would have a better understanding of these programs." Count on transparency to be a buzzword cloak for more of the same.
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