Earlier this week, BORDC’s Shahid Buttar appeared on The Big Picture with host Thom Hartmann to explain what he described as a “game changer” on congressional NSA reform, and to relate how members of Congress found “an alternative outlet for their outrage” about NSA spying
Shahid explained that:
The last thing that had happened in Congress was a very meager version of the USA Freedom Act passing the House, and that could ultimately [do] more harm than good. The amendments to the House Defense Appropriations bill last week…reflected essentially a response by members of Congress who were frustrated by the White House and the Republican leadership of the House gutting the USA Freedom Act, and finding an alternative outlet for their outrage….
Hartmann explored the notorious “backdoor search loophole” legalized through the 2008 FISA amendments that prompted then Senator Obama to promise reforms in writing that he has yet to deliver, before asking whether “just getting an email from somebody overseas” is sufficient to justify surveillance of an American target. Shahid explained:
It actually is broader than that, because the way the NSA has responded to that seeming limitation in the 2008 bill was to say that unless they know that both parties to a communication…are in the US they will presume that anything is up for grabs….So emails anywhere have been presumptively sucked up by the NSA….
At the end of the interview, Hartmann asked Shahid what may happen next in Congress, prompting him to say:
I hope that both of the balls that are in the Senate’s court get batted back to the President, and I hope very much that President Obama does the right thing and acts like the candidate who ran for the White House and not the President who’s been in for the last six years.
Finally, Hartmann notes that 123 members of Congress voted in support of the NSA’s Soviet powers. He asked, “Who are they?” Shahid replied:
SB: They are the stooges for the military industrial complex….This reform debate is a battle between a bipartisan establishment and a bipartisan populist influenced wing of the Tea Party and the progressives…. TH: I think this is a good example of how populism is the next big thing. It’s the Elizabeth Warrenization of politics — SB: or the Ron Paulization….The fault line is shifting. TH: It absolutely is.