Though I am a life long Republican, I’m not a big fan of John Thune. I tend to prefer the more constitutionally aligned Republican’s such as Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul. I think of Thune as a Surveillance State Republican. He’s happy to give up our Fourth Amendment rights when anyone in an intelligence agency says it might help stop a terrorist. I fear rattle snakes, mountain lions, and cows more than I fear terrorists, and I’d just as soon keep my constitutional rights.
Over the past several weeks, Rep Noem has been touting her sponsorship of the Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2016. There were some aspects of the press release that annoyed me, but I ignored it like everybody else. (It garnered zero comments over at Dakota War College). But then it showed up in my facebook feed, and in my local newspaper. My annoyance boiled over and I decided to dust off the blog.
So what’s not to like? Here’s what annoyed me…
This bill isn’t needed. American society is already recognizing the importance of women without this bill. Recall Hillary Clinton? As Secretary of State, she was our nation’s top diplomat. Later this year, Clinton will likely become our nation’s President. Additionally, the United Nations Security Council has already adopted seven resolutions over the years that address the same issues. Noem’s bill is unnecessary, duplicative, and adds additional cost and bureaucracy to an already inefficient government.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will make permanent nonsensical laws which prevent farmers from actually owning their farm equipment, and turn farmers that that diagnose, repair, and/or modify their farm equipment into criminals.
First, some background. TPP is a trade agreement among twelve Pacific Rim countries. The stated goal of the agreement is to,
“promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty in our countries; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labor and environmental protections.”
Senator John Thune sponsored the Consumer Review Freedom Act of 2015 which passed the Senate by Unanimous Consent a few weeks ago. Per the Congressional Research Service (CRS):
One year ago, Senator John Thune penned an op-ed where he stated that,
“Under Republican control, the Senate will get back to work, returning to regular order, which means bills will be considered out in the open in committees before coming to the Senate floor, and all senators, regardless of party, will have a chance to propose and debate amendments.”
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t follow the Senate that closely, but here’s what I’ve observed this past year:
Senators Rounds and Thune dealt a severe blow to consumer privacy when they helped to pass Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) on Oct 27th 2015. From Senator Round’s press release,
The bipartisan cyber security bill we passed in the Senate today will help protect Americans from such cyber-attacks by allowing companies to share information about cyber-threats to prevent other businesses from falling victim to similar threats. It does so while protecting Americans’ private information from being shared and is 100 percent voluntary.
Senator Thune hosted a field hearing on the topic of cyber-security at Dakota State University. You can read all about it at KELOLAND.com. I’m happy to see that Sen. Thune is seeking input from industry experts in an open forum. Hopefully that information will aid in the crafting of sensible cyber-security legislation. Kudos to Sen Thune for this.
Unfortunately, Senator Thune still used to opportunity to promote CISA, the cyber-security legislation that was crafted absent public input in closed door sessions of the Senate Intelligence Committee. If you don’t recall, CISA could actually make us less secure.
Defying all logic, both Senators Thune and Rounds voted to renew the Patriot Act as is without changes. The Patriot Act was set to sunset on June 1st, 2015. Though the Patriot Act had been renewed in the past, this time was different. In May 2013, Edward Snowden leaked thousands of classified documents to several journalists which shed light on how the Patriot Act was being actually being used. One of the most startling revelations was that the National Security Agency (NSA) had been collecting the phone records of virtually every American on a daily basis. This gave rise to a number of developments:
It’s already clear that the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) isn’t really needed, and may actually make the nation’s cyber-security worse. So why then, has the Senate Intelligence Committee along with Senator Thune and the Republican leadership been pushing so hard to pass this seemingly bad legislation? I think the answer may lay in its true purpose, domestic surveillance.
This article provides a good summary of just how CISA could be used for domestic surveillance, and how the information collected could be used by the government for purposes beyond cyber-security.
It seems the Republican leadership (which includes Sen. John Thune) hasn’t had much luck with their strategy of limiting debate on surveillance bills by pushing them through just before a recess. There was enough opposition to CISA prior to the Senate’s August recess, that they were forced to postpone a vote until September. Since then, I’ve come across a few interesting stories about how CISA may actually make cyber-security worse.
This article on an DOJ IG report, speculates that companies may be hesitant to share any information with the government because of concerns about how the personal information of customers might be used. CISA, after all, allows the information shared with the government to be used for purposes other than cyber-security.