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House cancels vote to renew surveillance powers after Trump threatened veto (wsj.com)
135 points by albertop 39 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 36 comments



This sounds like surprisingly good news. I would be curious what caused the shift.

> “The two-thirds of the Republican party that voted for this bill in March have indicated they are going to vote against it now,” Mr. [House Majority Leader ]Hoyer said. “I am told they are doing so at the request of the President. I believe this to be against the security interest of the United States and the safety of the American people.”


His tweets suggest that he believes his privacy had previously been invaded by FISA court-approved wiretapping under the Obama administration. Like most things he says, that seems to be mostly false but based in a shred of truth: someone from his campaign was subject to wiretapping approved by a FISA court as part of the Russian election interference investigation. He’s linking FISA to his “Obamagate” conspiracy. This explains his party’s push to add language to the bill providing additional due process before a FISA court could approve wiretapping a candidate for an elected office in the federal government.

A win for civil rights is a win for civil rights though. I hope.


> someone from his campaign was subject to wiretapping

This isn't quite right. One or more people on Trump's campaign and/or transition team were heard on wiretapped calls that included Russian diplomats and other people who were already under surveillance.


This isn't quite right either. It leaves out the fact that the wiretapping happened in Trump's offices in Trump Tower, where Trump spent most of his time. It hasn't been released exactly where and the extent of the people that were overheard on the wiretaps.

In any other time or western country, an existing administration wiretapping the opposition party and/or leader would be a scandal meriting resignation.

I'm quite shocked at the things partisan politics in America has come to normalize - on both sides.


> the wiretapping happened in Trump's offices in Trump Tower

No, Trump was never wiretapped.


Might wind up being a net loss, because now Democrat-associated civil rights organisations such as the ACLU will be reluctant to be seen opposing FISA courts lest they be accused of providing fire support to Trump. Nominally one would expect Republican-aligned or neutral organisations to pick up the slack to the same extent as the Democrat ones drop it, but I am not aware of any ones that are similarly established and effective in the civil liberties niche.


> Democrat-associated civil rights organisations such as the ACLU

There is an overlap in membership, but that doesn't always extend to policy: the ACLU sued the Obama administration over immigration, and they have backed up Rush Limbaugh, Oliver North, and the KKK in the past.


I decided to go back and look at what came out of the handful of headlines that filtered through to me in the past years that made me think this to be the case, and it seems like the situation is probably not (yet) quite as bad as I made it out to be: the most worrying instances that the ACLU is favouring partisanship over principle are that their defense of that more recent far-right rally caused an immense amount of internal pushback (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/04/us/aclu-charlottesville-w...) and that they are taking a decidedly pro-Democrat, anti-civil-rights stance on campus politics (https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/11/aclu-devos...), but there has been no explicit renunciation of their former choice and they may have somewhat softened their stance (indicating that they were still responsive to the criticism that it is out of line with their principles?) on the latter.

(There is also something on healthcare that appears similar, but I'll freely admit I don't understand enough about the background there and can't get past the paywall without giving up data: https://www.wsj.com/articles/wheres-the-aclu-when-you-need-i...)


So do you really believe in civil rights or do you just care that your team wins?


Which side are you even insinuating is "my team"...? I can assure you I care about civil rights legislation in the US (which affects the whole Western world, since the US controls every major piece of ASCII-based WWW) more than I care about either political party in the US winning, not being American myself. What I was trying to say with my previous post is that I suspect that _most organisations_ that would be in a position to defend said civil rights legislation really just care that their team wins, which is a problem for civil rights if civil rights wind up being seen as a win for the other team.


The point is that the problem isn't that Republicans want something that is good for civil liberties -- bipartisan support for civil liberties is a good thing. The problem is if "civil rights organizations" care more about party loyalty than civil rights. So the solution is to get those organizations to stop being partisan, not to get Republicans to stop doing something good in this case.


Yeah, well, easier said than done. How do you make an organisation become less partisan when every issue it touches is of core interest to the party politics of the day? They say politics is interested in you even when you are not interested in politics even when "you" refers to an entity whose potential value to politics is limited to one vote and maybe a few hours of barely persuasive ranting in friend groups, but here the entities you would need to resist politics' interest have millions in funding and are rather better with words too.


> How do you make an organisation become less partisan when every issue it touches is of core interest to the party politics of the day?

Have it focus on the issues and not the parties.

That's what they have to do anyway if they want to be effective. At any given time more often than not -- including right now -- the same party doesn't control both houses of Congress and the whitehouse, so anything you want to do needs bipartisan support anyway.

What's really happening here is that organizations that are supposed to be about issues are getting coopted by partisans -- which makes them less effective at their stated purpose, but more useful to the partisans who can then remove support from the opposing party members who actually support that issue.

As for how "you" can do it, don't support "issue organizations" that are really partisan organizations, and instead support actual issue organizations. You can tell the difference because you can see real issue organizations regularly working with both parties and supporting candidates who support their issues regardless of which party they're in.


What? The ACLU has been consistent about FISA:

https://www.aclu.org/other/fix-fisa-end-warrantless-wiretapp...

They don't give a fsck about the political inclination of those speaking. They even fought for the rights of Nazis to march in Skokie:

https://www.aclu.org/other/aclu-history-taking-stand-free-sp...


That proud version of the ACLU is long dead.


How long? They also represented the organizer of the Charlottesville white supremacy rally just a few years ago.



The principled version of the ACLU started dying in 2001 when Anthony Romero took over. He's taken the ACLU from an organization based on principles held so firmly that they would send a group of Jewish lawyers to defend the Illinois Nazis' right to march, to one that's almost indistinguishable from any left-leaning advocacy organization. It is a shame that we no longer really have an organization that zealously defends the Bill of Rights.


Can you provide some recent actions that lead you to believe this? I'm genuinely curious.


The power of the Presidency, especially within the party of the President, cannot be overstated - especially in the current political age. Similar to how when the Democratic Speaker tells her colleagues to fall in line...they tend to comply.


>I believe this to be against the security interest of the United States and the safety of the American people.

This fear mongering is so pathetic.


Why waste time to vote when its going to be vetoed? Also, you can claim in the future that you didn't vote for the bill. It benefits both parties.


That actually works both ways though. Voting for a bill you know will never get enacted allows you to argue you voted for it but someone else killed it. There's a huge potential for virtue signaling.


This is a rare instance where progressive Democrats have been outspoken critics of this bill (though most still voted for it) and now Republicans have done a complete U-turn (publicly, at least, following Trump’s lead) and agree. There isn’t much virtue to signal when the opposition is bipartisan.


except the pending virtue signalling of people in each party being 'bipartisan' as a result of this event...


That’s a fair point. But in this case I suspect it’s a “you win this time” and not a “you win.” I don’t think this is the end of Patriot Act wiretapping but I hope I’m wrong.


Well, even a broken clock is right twice a day


It is infuriating how Pelosi seems to be the main person who really in the end actually wanted these surveillance powers: she should be celebrating a win here, not wishing that there were still a competent republican in office who would have helped her keep FISA.


This is good news but I am concerned that “the other shoe is going to drop” and A.G. Barr’s request that all encrypted communications have a back-door for law enforcement (and hackers) will be strongly advocated. You know, to keep the kids safe.


He can’t make requests that aren’t backed by any laws. He’s a law enforcer not lawmaker.


We'll see about that. If there's anything this presidency has taught me, it's that our governments' protections against bad actors are very weak against the two party system.


He also can't overturn math.


Don't be naive.


Just you wait. I suspect that it will eventually be passed when no one is paying attention. This is just posturing on both sides.


Hooray! Trump’s fear of his corruption being (further) exposed works in our favor!


This is being downvoted, but it's probably not "wrong". This was used to look into the trump campaign, and is likely a major reason that he's opposed to it.




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