Use the Cantor Shellacking to Reverse Course on USA Freedumber

Eric Cantor, who famously held up earthquake relief to his own district on Paygo rules, got his ass handed to him last night by Tea Party candidate Dave Brat.

And while my impression is Cantor lost because of that kind of disdain for his constituents, it is in fact the case that 1) Cantor was a key player in watering down and then passing the USA Freedumber Act and 2) Brat campaigned on an anti-surveillance platform. Which means pundits are already reading Cantor’s defeat as a loss for the NSA.

But it’s only a loss if it leads to the defeat of USA Freedumber, one of the last bills Cantor shepherded through the House before his shellacking.

So I think the privacy community should use it as an opportunity to do what it should have done as soon as USA Freedumb got watered down into USA Freedumber: loudly declare that Jim Sensenbrenner reneged on the deal made in the USA Freedumb Act and that the legislative effort needs to be reset.

I say that because right now the privacy community has lost all its leverage in this process by not loudly coming out against USA Freedumber after Cantor watered it down, by not rallying the privacy community on solid principles. Sure, doing so doesn’t help in the House, where significant damage has already been done. But doing so may be one of the few things that would restore the credibility of the institutional players and restore some kind of unity to the effort.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

11 replies
  1. galljdaj says:

    Marcy has ‘it’ in full view and the need to, slap down our so called govt, bring them/it back into servants of the Peoples! not corporations and the 1%.

  2. bloopie2 says:

    Yes, let’s take the opportunity NOW. It may be too late by January, whcn Brat gets in. Too band he’s not in now; he sure doesn’t seem like someone who would be swayed by intelligence community money. I can just see him telling the lobbyists, “Sure, I’ll talk with you, but it will be videotaped and available to the public. Still want to chat?” Now, wouldn’t that be a trip, if we could get legislators to do that?

    • bloopie2 says:

      And Brat could tell the IC lobbyists, “After all, what’s the problem, if you have nothing to hide?”

  3. orionATL says:

    “…the privacy community has lost all its leverage…”

    i watch this happen all the time when organizations which normally lobby a legislature are faced with legislative/executive opposition which does not intend to listen or lose. environmental, education, prison reform, aclu, transportation, racial injustice, etc. the private organizations, accustomed as they are to discussion and negotiation with representatives and staff, seem afraid to threaten or attack, for fear of offending, and hence are treated as supplicants.

    supplicants don’t get anywhere in today’s legislative politics.

    sensennbrenner definitely should be targeted. so should feinstein and leahy, bohner and pelosi given the white house involvement in the negotiations, so especially should the president and his natsec hard-asses.

    government spying on citizens in an election year is a gift from the gods (just on the issue of repeated public lying alone), but you would never know that watching opponents of spying bow and curtsy to natsec fear-tales and lies.

  4. bittersweet says:

    But, the NYT says, “Mr. Cantor, repeatedly criticizing him for being soft on immigration and contending that he supported what critics call amnesty for immigrants in the country illegally.”
    So immigration is what the powers that be want the story to be about. They never mention an anti-surveillance platform. How do we get them to look deeper into the issues at play?

    • lefty665 says:

      Think something’s bassackwards in there. Maybe the NYT (as usual). Brat was anti immigration, as most of the Teabgaggers are. Cantor waffled.
      .
      It will be interesting to see if those of us who crossed over to vote against Cantor were the difference. That might take a little of the glow off the Teabaggers cheeks. 16-17 votes per precinct were all it would take. Die hard anti Cantor voters make up about 25% of the district, with around half a million voters in the district, about 4/10’s of 1% of us soreheads would do it. Virginia allows people to vote in one primary, but does not register by party. There was no Dem primary in the 7th, so it was easy to promise that I would not vote in any other primary.
      .
      I’m thrilled that Cantor is out, but be careful how happy you get about Brat. He is a right wing Libertarian dingbat . He has written papers about the joys of Ayn Rand economics. In the house he will be a member of the lunatic fringe baying at the moon and trying to shut government down. He also has a Phd in Economics and a Doctor of Divinity. That’s a scary combination.
      .
      Some might find it is their/our interest to contribute to Dem Dave Trammell, another Randolph-Macon prof. He’s going to need all the help he can get.

  5. Don Bacon says:

    “…Shellacking,” an oldie but goody.
    .
    Very few writers can match Marcy on using descriptive English. I could mention other examples….

  6. ess emm says:

    right now the privacy community has lost all its leverage in this process by not loudly coming out against USA Freedumber after Cantor watered it down, by not rallying the privacy community on solid principles.

    Exactly. The privacy community is too loosely organized and not militant enough.

    And not only should the privacy community directly pressure Congress with letter writing campaigns, demonstrations and putting op-eds in newspapers (perhaps a satirical piece in the NYT), but they should be putting extreme pressure on the Googles and Verizons to more actively resist. Think of the Wikipedia blackout during the SOPA and PIPA debates and how that turned the tide.

    I’m curious, what are the readers of this blog and Marcy’s followers on Twitter doing?

  7. anonymous says:

    Totally. The privacy community needs to be more militant. Plus. It’s not about privacy, it’s about liberty, about freedom. Military occupation of your computer and the internet. Censorship, surveillance. Let’s change the dynamics.

    • bmaz1 says:

      Hi there. Almost all screen names here are “anonymous”. Please pick an appropriate pseudonym, other than “anonymous” and stick with it so that the dedicated, admirable, and highly responsive and intellectual community here may have some minimal semblance of who they are dealing with.

      You can engage, mask your identity, and still be a voice that has consistency for people to interact with. Are you willing to do that?

Comments are closed.