Last month Rep. Kristi Noem voted against a bi-partisan amendment that would have required the government to seek a warranty prior to querying the internet data of American citizens. Opponents of the bill politicized the Orlando tragedy in order to defeat the amendment which had passed the previous two years.
Rep. Noem has a mixed track record on this amendment. She voted yes three years ago, and then has voted no the last two years. I sent a letter asking why she changed her vote, but I never received a reply. I’m speculating that Rep. Noem has been influenced in part from the intense lobbying from the FBI and intelligence community regarding this amendment. After all, the FBI would rather not bother with judicial oversight and warrants.
Just yesterday, Rep. Kristi Noem voted in favor of the deceptive H.R. 5606: Anti-terrorism Information Sharing Is Strength Act. Fortunately, the bill failed. As Republican Rep. Justin Amash put it, “… H.R. 5606 will permit the government to demand information on any American from any financial institution merely upon reasonable suspicion.” Reasonable suspicion by the way, is the same legal standard federal officials used when needlessly strip searching a teen-age Sturgis girl.
H.R. 5606 is deceptive in that it’s not really about stopping terrorists. Section 314 of the Patriot Act already allows law enforcement to seek financial records of suspected terrorists and money launderers. H.R. 5606 allows law enforcement to seek financial records based on the low “reasonable suspicious” standard for any matter of crime, all without a search warrant/judicial oversight.
Just days after voting down several gun related bills in defense of the Second Amendment, Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds voted to undermine the Fourth Amendment and grant the FBI the power to gather transaction email, chat, and web browsing data without a warrant or judicial oversight via National Security Letters (NSL). Senator Rounds even co-sponsored the measure.
Republicans are taking advantage of the shooting tragedy in Orlando to push the measure, but as noted in the Christian Science Monitor:
Rep. Noem voted “YES” to the Sensenbrenner-Massie-Lofgren Amendment to Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2015. The measure passed with bi-partisan support (293-123). The amendment prohibits the use of funding for backdoor searches of Americans’ communications without a warrant. It also prohibits the use of funding for the NSA to mandate or request that private companies and organizations add backdoors to the encryption standards that are meant to keep you safe on the web. Here is the actual text of the amendment:
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