Friday, July 26, 2013

Where is 2009's John Boehner when we need him?

I was reading a particularly good (albeit imperfect) article about President Obama's Trayvon Martin speech by Esther Armah, and an interesting statement caught my eye:
[ columnist David] Sirota cited the 2009 report from the Department of Homeland Security, Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment. That report came within the President's first 100 days in office and was aimed at giving law enforcement what then Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called "situational awareness." The report cited the recession, the election of a black president and disgruntled veterans as fodder for growth in extreme groups. Oklahoma bomber, Timothy McVeigh had been a decorated Gulf War veteran before killing 168 people during the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. Napolitano's report sparked widespread outrage from right wing media, veterans groups and Americans across the board. Republicans called for her to step down. Then House Minority Leader John Boehner said: "I just don't understand how our government can look at the American people and say: 'you're all potential terrorist threats.'" The outcry prompted an apology by Napolitano.
This is mid-2009. Since that time, it seems that House Speaker John Boehner may have gained the understanding he claimed to lack:
The House voted 205-217 Wednesday and defeated an amendment to the roughly $600 billion Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014 that would have ended authority for the once-secret spy program the White House insisted was necessary to protect national security. [...]
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) voted against the measure. He ranked 15th in defense earnings swith a $131,000 take.
What was so unappealing about this amendment? All it would do is restrict the NSA's domestic spying from treating all U.S. citizens as potential terrorists, which it does, as recently revealed by documents leaked by Edward Snowden to the Guardian -- particularly, the dragnet of phone records through an order to Verizon.
Under the Patriot Act, the government only needs to show that the information is “relevant” to an authorized investigation. No connection to a terrorist or spy is required. The amendment would effectively gut the dragnet phone-metadata program that commenced following the 2001 terror attacks by only authorizing the metadata snooping against specified targets that are “the subject of an investigation.” [via]
Should we be surprised? In 2009, Boehner was tasked with responding to the outrage of his voter base: church-going white veterans. This month, his task was to defend those who pay for his campaign and offer him industry positions after he leaves office. That is how you make money in Washington.

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