By Eric Boehm | Watchdog.org
Two members of Congress were honored Wednesday for their efforts to advance mass governmental surveillance and domestic spying.
U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., and U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., were awarded the Honecker Dunce Award by the Constitutional Right Association, a pro-civil liberties nonprofit. Feinstein and Rogers are the respective majority chairs of the Senate and House committees charged with overseeing the secret NSA spying programs.
The association called the obviously tongue-in-cheek award – named after Erick Honecker, the former East German leader responsible for building the Berlin Wall and instructing secret police to spy on his own citizens – “the most prestigious award” that can be bestowed on an elected official “for violating their oath to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution.”
“The damage that has been done to our democracy and our civil liberties by these two public servants is unfathomable,” the association noted.
Calls to Feinstein’s and Roger’s offices were not immediately returned.
Despite their partisan differences, Feinstein and Rogers have been in lock-step regarding their defense of the questionably-legal NSA program that collects cell phone and email data from all Americans in a sweeping – and secret – dragnet.
Following Edward Snowden’s leaks of information about the NSA program, the two members of Congress appeared together in June on This Week with George Stephanopoulos to offer a bipartisan defense for the NSA’s spying regime.
Given the evidence leaked by Snowden, was it not plainly clear that Clapper was lying to Congress, Stephanopoulos prompted.
Neither Feinstein nor Rogers was willing to admit as much. Feinstein went as far as to say Clapper was an “honest person.”
Now, they are at it again.
With the U.S. House set to vote later today on an amendment by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., to defund the NSA’s spying program, Rogers is reportedly circulating a letter among members of the House urging them to keep the largest domestic spying program in U.S. history.
“While many members have legitimate questions about the NSA metadata program, including whether there are sufficient protections for Americans’ civil liberties,” Rogers wrote, according to CBS News. “Eliminating this program altogether without careful deliberation would not reflect our duty, under Article I of the Constitution, to provide for the common defense.”
Even though the bill is still in the House, Feinstein just could not resist chiming in (along with U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., because government surveillance has bipartisan support in both chambers, it’s important to remember) with a statement of her own.
“We believe this debate in the Congressional Intelligence and Judiciary committees should continue and that any amendments to defund the program on appropriations bills would be unwise,” said Feinstein and Chambliss, presumably with one finishing the other’s sentence.
The Constitutional Rights Association encouraged Feinstein and Rogers to read George Orwell’s novel “1984” to “learn more about domestic spying programs and the effects of mass surveillance.”
Boehm is a reporter for Watchdog.org. He can be reached at [email protected]