One Tim Johnson press release you probably won't be reading on Badlands Blue is in regards to his vote yesterday to gut the Fourth Amendment and allow the government to invade our privacy. Johnson was one of 18 spineless Democrats who voted to give President Bush what he wanted, the authority to spy on Americans without warrants and almost limitless immunity for the Telco's that will assist or have assisted in spying on us up until now as well as in the future.
Not one of the 49 Senate Republicans stood up for the Fourth Amendment. And there are nearly 20 weak Democrats who simply cannot be relied upon to stand against the Republicans when fundamental rights are at stake.Some highlights of what Senator Johnson's vote could allow.
These Democratic Senators will forever be remembered as having failed their oaths to preserve and protect the Constitution. Bayh, Inouye, Johnson, Landrieu, McCaskill, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, Stabenow, Feinstein, Kohl, Pryor, Rockefeller, Salazar, Carper, Mikulski, Conrad, Webb, and Lincoln. Whitehouse voted to mitigate the worst provisions, but ultimately voted for the Bill.
-- The President can direct US spy agencies to intercept every e-mail, telephone or internet communication of every American and anyone legally in the US with only the most minimal safeguards. Although the bill was supposed to deal with exclusively "foreign" communications, the techniques it sanctions will in fact sweep up domestic and foreign combined.
-- Acting without individual or particularized warrants from any court, spy agencies can sweep up millions of communications without differentiating between those warranting surveillance and those not. Procedures for separating out totally innocent persons or communications that have nothing to do with foreign intelligence or any security threat to the US are minimal to non-existent. Procedures allowing a secret court to review such procedures have been weakened, along with measures to correct violations of even these limited procedures.
-- Persons spied upon have no ability to determine what information the government has collected, or to affect what the government does with the information. Americans will never know which persons or government agencies were shown private information about them, and if restrictions are placed on their activities or travel because of this secret information, it will be impossible for victims to determine why or to challenge the information.
-- Telecommunication companies who participated in government's illegal spying activities, and those who ordered this, would be forever immune from any consequences for their actions and cannot be required to disclose what they did.
Thanks Tim! (And of course Senator Thune as well but we already know he is in Bush's back pocket so this is not a surprise)