Throughout his flip-flopping career, Representative Dennis Rehberg has certainly taken a number of positions on the civil liberties enjoyed by Americans. He championed a draconian REAL ID Act before realizing it was politically unpopular back home. He repeatedly voted for the obscene USA-Patriot Act before realizing that Montanans aren’t going to stand for clear violations of the Bill of Rights.
But while he changed his mind on these two votes, Dennis never seems to learn the important lesson: that the Bill of Rights should not be violated because of a moment’s panic or fear. He keeps returning to the well, putting our civil liberties at risk over and over again.
In recent months, he voted to support a massive expansion of the federal government’s power on our northern border.
And today he voted to reauthorize the sweeping electronic surveillance authorized by the FISA Act, threatening the civil liberties of Americans in exactly the same way the Patriot Act did, authorizing warrantless searches and surveillance of electronic conversations.
Montanans of all political stripes value our right to lead our lives free of unnecessary government intrusion. Maybe Representative Rehberg will eventually vote the right way on FISA, like he finally did on REAL ID and the Patriot Act, but wouldn’t it be better to have someone who will get it right in the first place?
Don’t believe me that this was a bad vote? Ask the libertarians at the CATO Institute:
In short, the supporters of the FISA Amendments Act appear to misunderstand both what the law they just voted for actually does, and what broader defects in our intelligence system present the most serious risks to national security. If you’re wondering why we don’t have better intelligence policy, it’s not that hard to connect the dots.
Ask the ACLU:
Yet again, the House has rubberstamped a law so broad and vague that, despite its passage four years ago, we still have little idea how the government is using it. It is at the very heart of the Fourth Amendment that Americans and their communications are fiercely protected from government intrusion. This law should be amended to include much stronger privacy protections when the Senate takes it up later this year.”
Ask the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
The FISA Amendments Act (FAA) of 2008 gave the NSA expansive power to spy on Americans’ international email and telephone calls. However, last month, in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden, a government official publicly disclosed that the NSA’s surveillance had gone even further than what the law permits, with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) issuing at least one ruling calling the NSA’s actions unconstitutional. The government further disclosed that the FISC had determined the government’s surveillance violated the spirit of the law on at least one occasion, as well. EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeks disclosure of any written opinions or orders from FISC discussing illegal government surveillance, as well as any briefings to Congress about those violations.