As news continues to break about the massive data collection overreach by the National Security Agency, Colorado’s own Democratic Senator Mark Udall has attempted to position himself as the rational voice in the debate over data privacy. Udall is trying to push the narrative that he’s a “privacy watchdog” as evidenced by his ranting from an email to supporters today:
“I supported amendments to responsibly reform the PATRIOT Act, spoke many times on the Senate floor, and urged the Administration to tell the American people about how the surveillance laws were being used. I even voted against the long-term re-authorization of the PATRIOT Act because it didn’t strike the right balance between privacy and security.”
A privacy watchdog? Hardly. Here is the truth about Udall’s record on privacy issues. The gist? In 2011, Udall voted for roving wiretaps, business record access (aka the “215” orders) and “lone wolf” wiretapping as part of H.R. 514. Then, he published a rant about how awful the provisions were. Even worse, Section 215 orders are precisely what the NSA used to gather data from law-abiding citizens’ cell phones, according to the Washington Post.
Before Udall apologists start defending the Senator, let’s be clear. Section 215 wasn’t buried in some obscure or lengthy piece of legislation. The legislation dealt primarily with just these three issues – roving wiretaps, Section 215 orders, and “lone wolf” wiretapping.
Udall also is trying to distance himself from the President on these issues with statements like this one to PBS:
“I just draw the line a little bit differently than the president does…. We do need to remember, we’re in a war against terrorists, and terrorism remains a real threat, but I also think we have to cue to the Bill of Rights, and the Fourth Amendment, which prevents unlawful searches and seizures, ought to be important to us. It ought to remain sacred, and there’s got to be a balance here.”
What a victim. In addition to the fact that he was on the Senate Intelligence Committee, where he had exclusive classified briefings on the program, as a Senator he voted for the very people charged with enacting this program in the Obama administration. He voted to confirm the National Intelligence Director and the directors of the CIA and FBI. He also supported the President who appointed the National Security Adviser.
He voted for the people in charge of these programs. He voted for the laws that gave the administration the legal ability to have these programs. But, don’t worry, he winked and nodded in letters and speeches about how he didn’t like it.
Sen. Udall, the world loves a repentant sinner. Why not just admit that you were wrong, instead of continuing on this path of hypocrisy?