Michele Bachmann is Obama's biggest backer when it comes to NSA spying on Americans
On privacy issues, Obama and Bachmann are cut from the same cloth.
Michele Bachmann has made a cottage industry out of taking shots at President Obama, but the lame-duck congresswoman has emerged as one of the House's most outspoken supporters of the Obama administration's controversial NSA surveillance policies.
Yesterday, tea partier Justin Amash teamed with his fellow Michigan congressman, longtime Democratic Representative John Conyers, and introduced an amendment to de-fund one NSA program: the agency's bulk collection of American's telephone records. The amendment failed by a narrow margin, but not before Bachmann spoke vehemently in support of the President's policies.
As the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald writes, "The most vocal defenders of the Obama White House's position were Rep. Mike Rogers, the very hawkish GOP Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and GOP Congresswoman Michele Bachmann."
"Echoing the Democratic House leadership, Bachmann repeatedly warned that NSA bulk spying was necessary to stop 'Islamic jihadists', and she attacked Republicans who supported de-funding for rendering the nation vulnerable to The Terrorists," Greenwald continues.
Indeed, during a recent "Conversation with Conservatives" event in Washington, Bachmann went as far as to argue that since phone records aren't the possession of individual citizens, the Fourth Amendment doesn't apply.
"Individuals do not own the records, the records belong to the company," Bachmann said. "The records are in their possession, they belong to the phone companies, they're not the individual's. So there's no Fourth Amendment expectation of privacy or right to the business-record exception."
In response, Representative Amash pointed out Bachmann's reasoning is "like saying our emails are the property of Google... We have a problem if that's going to be our interpretation of the Fourth Amendment."
"All you have to do is go home to your constituents and ask them whether they think they have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their phone records or any of their other records that are stored by any third party, and they will tell you yes," Amash continued, apparently forgetting constituents are less of a concern for Bachmann these days since she won't be seeking another term next year.
Ultimately, Greenwald interprets yesterday's narrow vote as reflecting the breakdown of Congress's longstanding Democratic/Republican split and the emergence of a new divide between "authoritarianism v. individualism, fealty to The National Security State v. a belief in the need to constrain and check it, insider Washington loyalty v. outsider independence."
More from Greenwald:
That's why the only defenders of the NSA at this point are the decaying establishment leadership of both political parties whose allegiance is to the sprawling permanent power faction in Washington and the private industry that owns and controls it. They're aligned against long-time liberals, the new breed of small government conservatives, the ACLU and other civil liberties groups, many of their own members, and increasingly the American people, who have grown tired of, and immune to, the relentless fear-mongering.
The sooner the myth of "intractable partisan warfare" is dispelled, the better. The establishment leadership of the two parties collaborate on far more than they fight. That is a basic truth that needs to be understood. As John Boehner joined with Nancy Peolsi, as Eric Cantor whipped support for the Obama White House, as Michele Bachmann and Peter King stood with Steny Hoyer to attack NSA critics as Terrorist-Lovers, yesterday was a significant step toward accomplishing that.
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