While Edward Snowden stays put in the Moscow Airport, his efforts to awaken Americans against the Leviathan security state we live in seem to stay there with him. We seem to be more enamored with the royal baby or Anthony Weiner’s latest sexcapades, while the Senate voted on a resolution to continue to inflate the cost of higher education. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), in typical fashion, bucked the House GOP leadership on NSA surveillance, championing an amendment to stop the unwarranted collection of citizens' data. The amendment was eventually defeated, 217-205, and Snowden’s nightmare is coming to fruition: No matter what Americans do or feel, the congressional security complex will use bipartisanship to bolster the power of government at the expense of civil liberties.
Amash brought people from both sides of the aisle in support of his efforts, like Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). Tragically, there is still a large group of people in Washington who dont’ really listen to Benjamin Franklin's old aphorism that those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither. The vote breakdown was interestingly and strangely bipartisan. The group that voted Nay consisted of 134 Republicans and 83 Democrats. The other camp consisted 94 Republicans and 111 Democrats voting against the NSA’s mass collection of information about American citizens. While the common narrative is that the Republicans are obstructionist, this vote shows that this isn’t always the case. The Republicans,specifically Rep. Amash, fought against their own leadership. On a more promising note, it’s good to see that a majority of Democrats joined Republicans in supporting the freedom of Americans.
On the other hand, when the PATRIOT Act passed, it was bipartisan. When the Iraq War passed, it was bipartisan. The Gulf of Tonkin resolution? It was bipartisan. It seems that, on the whole, foreign policy is where we get the most bipartisanship. At least Congress is aligned around which people are going to die in foreign countries via drones, bombs, or guns.
But when it comes back to domestic policy, it’s almost impossible to find the same clarity around legislative objectives. Take Obamacare & HillaryCare, Dodd-Frank, George W. Bush’s Social Security privatization, or his failed immigration push. Each of these pieces of domestic policy had strong constituencies that had a specific reasons for helping or killing the bills. It is much easier to oppose or support people when you speak the same language. As soon as discussions of death panels, Wall Street gambling with pensions, or Glass-Steagall come into play, there are easy points of reference for the political class to foment opposition.
Yet every so often, an individual like Edward Snowden comes along, and showcases a government program that violates our rights as American citizens. By exposing the violation of the Fourth Amendment through programs like PRISM, Snowden rallied of those concerned with civil liberties. The policy of unwarranted mass data collection of American citizens is even more concerning because of specific constitutional precedents set forth by the Obama administration in regards to drones. As we saw in the Anwar al-Awlaki case, the United States government has the authority to assassinate an American citizen using a drone on foreign soil if they are deemed an “immediate threat.” To quote David R. Dow of The Daily Beast, “If al-Awlaki presented an immediate threat, then ‘immediate’ means anything, and therefore it means nothing at all.”
If I were Snowden, that policy would make me extremely uneasy. All he has to do is step outside of the Moscow Airport, and the United States can send in the drones, legally. Given how Snowden has conducted himself, he's probably already figured this out. He’s a smart enough guy to assume this may happen, given our foreign policy as of late. As it turns out, his worst fear is coming true. This is bipartisanship at its worst. The American people should not stand for it.