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Yesterday, after the revelations in the Glenn Greenwald's expose in the Guardian about the NSA's Verizon phone records dragnet, the New York Times editorial board penned a stinging rebuke of the Obama administration's disregard for transparency and civil liberties (which it later quietly watered down.  And that rebuke came before the alter revelations in the Washington Post and the Guardian about the NSA's Internet spying operation PRISM and the willful cooperation of the tech giants.

Yesterday, in light of the Verizon story, I revisited the votes for the 2008 FISA Amendments Act and the 2012 FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act.  I think it would also be appropriate to revisit the Patriot Act, the first major effort in the Bush-Obama era to erode civil liberties.  

We often forget that the Patriot Act was actually named by the usual Orwellian acronyms that Congress always loves: Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act (USA PATRIOT Act).  Such nomenclature was a common feature of the pieces of legislation Bush championed that would erode civil liberties or gut regulations. The bill was fast-tracked through Congress. It was introduced just over a month after 9/11 on October 23, 2001.  It was passed by the House a day later on the 24th then by the Senate on the 25th.  George W. Bush signed it on the 26th.  There was no desire to allow debate, and we can be sure that many who voted for the bill had never actually read it.

Rather than naming and shaming the Senators and Representatives who voted for this bill, let's highlight those who nobly voted AGAINST it--considering what a small number they were.

The USA PATRIOT Act passed the Senate by a vote of 98 to 1.  Russ Feingold (D-WI), a strong civil libertarian who was unfortunately defeated in the 2010 election, was the sole opponent.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 357 to 66.  Of the 66 constitutional defenders, 62 were Democrats, 3 were Republicans, and 1 was an Independent. Five of them--Tammy Baldwin, Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, Mark Udall, and Tom Udall--now serve in the Senate.


Democratic Caucus:

Tammy Baldwin (WI-02)
Thomas Barrett (WI-05)
Earl Blumenauer (OR-03)
David Bonior (MI-10)
Rick Boucher (VA-09)
Sherrod Brown (OH-13)
Mike Capuano (MA-08)
Eva Clayton (NC-01)
John Conyers (MI-14)
William Coyne (PA-14)
Elijah Cummings (MD-07)
Danny Davis (IL-07)
Pete DeFazio (OR-04)
Diana DeGette (CO-01)
John Dingell (MI-16)
Sam Farr (CA-17)
Bob Filner (CA-50)
Barney Frank (MA-04)
Alcee Hastings (FL-23)
Earl Hilliard (AL-07)
Mike Honda (CA-15)
Jesse Jackson (IL-02)
Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX-18)
Eddie Johnson (TX-30)
Stephanie Jones (OH-11)
Dennis Kucinich (OH-10)
Barbara Lee (CA-09)
John Lewis (GA-05)
Jim McDermott (WA-07)
James McGovern (MA-03)
Cynthia McKinney (GA-04)
Carrie Meek (FL-17)
George Miller (CA-07)
Patsy Mink (HI-02)
Allan Mollohan (WV-01)
Jerry Nadler (NY-08)
James Oberstar (MN-08)
David Obey (WI-07)
John Olver (MA-01)
Major Owens (NY-11)
Ed Pastor (AZ-02)
Donald Payne (NJ-10)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Nick Rahall (WV-03)
Lynn Rivers (MI-13)
Bobby Rush (IL-01)
Martin Sabo (MN-05)
Loretta Sanchez (CA-46)
Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)
Bobby Scott (VA-03)
Jose Serrano (NY-16)
Pete Stark (CA-13)
Bennie Thompson (MS-02)
John Tierney (MA-06)
Mark Udall (CO-02)
Tom Udall (NM-03)
Nydia Velazquez (NY-12)
Peter Visclosky (IN-01)
Maxine Waters (CA-35)
Diane Watson (CA-32)
Mel Watt (NC-12)
Lynn Woolsey (CA-06)
David Wu (OR-01)

Republicans
Bob Ney (OH-18)
Butch Otter (ID-01)
Ron Paul (TX-14)

Note: Many of the progressive champions in Congress today, such as Keith Ellison, Raul Grijalva, and Judy Chu, did not enter Congress until more recently.  If you want to see how your representative voted, just click the link above where I mention the roll call.

Congress voted to extend the provisions of the Patriot Act in 2011 during the Obama presidency and with the new president's full support.  The actions taken by the federal government over the decade after the passage of the initial bill caused many to reconsider their prior support. The Senate passed the extension bill by a vote of 72 to 23. 18 Democrats, 4 Republicans, and 1 Independent (Bernie, of course) opposed the bill.  In the House, the bill passed 250 to 153.  Now, 122 Democrats (a majority of the caucus) and 31 Republicans opposed the bill. Nancy Pelosi, for example, changed her prior support to an opposition.  I commend those like Pelosi who withdrew their past support; however, our true heroes are the 67 that stood against it from the start.

1:06 PM PT: Strangely, Nick Rahall and Collin Peterson, who both voted AGAINST the bill when first introduced, voted to extend it a decade later.  What gives?


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