The House Democrats who are leading the charge on reforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act can't seem to make anyone happy. Progressive lawmakers and the American Civil Liberties Union say that the new bill introduced by Rep. John Conyers won't protect civil liberties sufficiently. And at last, House Republicans are showing their cards, finding new ways to argue that the Democratic plans undermine American national security and hurt our fight against terrorists.
But the Republicans have decided to take a page out of the progressive playbook, too. In the days to come, watch for them to argue that the Democratic legislation, the RESTORE Act, will harm civil liberties.
Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, already did as much in a statement yesterday. Referring to the new requirement that the intelligence community keep records of "the instances where the identity of a United States person whose communications were acquired was disclosed by an element of the intelligence community...to other departments or agencies of the United States," Hoekstra argued:
[T]he bill creates a centralized database that could subject Americans to alarmingly increased risk of privacy violations by requiring the intelligence community report to Congress information on the identities of U.S. citizens disseminated within the community.
It could open a door for massive civil liberties violations by Congress--by requiring the intelligence community to turn over information on U.S. citizens it would normally black out.
So let's get this straight. Rep. Hoekstra is worried that if a government agency is spying on you, and told another government agency that it's spying on you, the possibility that Congress might find out that you're being spied on could violate your privacy.
I'll say no more.