Monday, August 19, 2013

There Are A Lot Of Reasons To Vote For Carl Sciortino-- Alan Grayson Is Emphasizing The Out-Of-Control NSA

Carl Sciortino with Ed Markey on election day

Last night, Alan Grayson (D-FL) endorsed Carl Sciortino for Congress, the progressive in a tight 5-way primary to replace Ed Markey. He joins People for the American Way, Blue America and all the Massachusetts LGBT and progressive organizations who have already endorsed. Grayson went right to the domestic spying situation Congress in looking at now-- although he didn't mention that one of Carl's opponents, Katherine Clark (yes, EMILY's List again) has a shocking record as a state legislator in advancing a domestic spying agenda that has been denounced by the ACLU. Grayson:
Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives came very close to ending the National Security Agency's unconstitutional and illegal surveillance of every American. An amendment to do just that fell a few votes short.

The "intelligence community" pulled out all the stops to defeat this amendment. Members of Congress were told that if we did not allow the military to collect enormous quantities of data on every single American citizen, the next "9/11" would be on our conscience. NSA General Keith Alexander held four hours of secret briefings on the Hill, just before the vote. Republicans Michele Bachmann and Tom Cotton treated the amendment as though it were the End of Days. Bush-era counterterrorism officials who failed to prevent the 9/11 attacks swore that domestic spying is necessary to prevent new 9/11 attacks. (In the world of counterterrorism, apparently, failure makes you an expert.) Even the White House, sadly, weighed in in favor of continued pervasive domestic surveillance.

Despite this, 111 Democrats-- a majority of all the Democrats in the House-- joined 94 Republicans and voted to end domestic spying. That's 205 votes against the secret surveillance state. Among the votes against surveillance was Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the original author of the Patriot Act, and highly respected among right-wing Republicans on national security issues. Even some of the Members who voted wrong on this amendment clearly were with us in spirit, but they were cowed by the fear of being blamed for some hypothetical future terrorist attack.

This large number of House Members voting against the NSA was a stunning rebuke to the "intelligence community." This was the first vote on this issue, but not the last. To win, we need just 11 more House Members with the courage to stand up for our rights.

And I know how we can get two more: by electing them. One can come from a district in Massachusetts, which was vacated when former Congressman Ed Markey was elected to the U.S. Senate. Another can come from a district in Pennsylvania that is being vacated because the current officeholder is running for Governor.

I know candidates in both districts who have a realistic shot at winning these seats. Both candidates strongly oppose unconstitutional domestic surveillance, and both have said they would have voted with me in favor of ending it. I have mentioned one already-- Daylin Leach, from Pennsylvania. The other candidate is Carl Sciortino in Massachusetts, a state legislator who has opposed the expansion of state wiretapping authority.

And here's Leach on domestic spying:

"The NSA policy that the Amash Amendment attempted to rein in is an outrageous shifting of the historic balance between liberty and security. It abandons not only the requirement of individualized suspicion, but of any suspicion at all. It allows the government just to collect, en masse, the phone records of hundreds of millions of Americans. It allows the government to know who we call, when, and for how long we speak, every time we use the phone."

And here's Sciortino:

"I have opposed pointless wiretapping in Massachusetts, and I will fight against it in Congress. Protecting individual liberties is something progressives must stand up and fight for. Unwarranted spying on law-abiding Americans is a violation of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution. I would have been proud to have voted in favor of reining in the NSA. Putting aside the fact that it is not even clear that this NSA policy is, in fact, making us safer, that broad justification is insufficient. The noble end does not justify ANY means. We as a people must be wary, not only of those who would make us less safe, but also those who would make us less free. We must defend our borders, and our liberties. And we must do so in an open, transparent and thoughtful way."

If we help elect Leach and Sciortino, that's two more votes to stop the NSA from spying on us. But more than that, if we can demonstrate to current Members of Congress that there is real support by voters and donors against this illegal surveillance, then we can win those Members over to our side. Right now, all too many of them get their campaign money from the Spying Industrial Complex ("SIC"). Let's prove that there are both money and votes on our side of this important issue.

Please contribute to the Leach and Sciortino campaigns today. Let's put more people in the People's House who will stand up for our freedoms.

Now, these are True Blue Democrats.


Rep. Alan Grayson
Blue America is backing both candidates-- as well as Grayson, of course-- and you can contribute to all three of them here.

One last thing: it's like pulling teeth to get progressive incumbents to endorse and help raise money for progressive candidates, especially in primaries. The Blue Dogs and New Dems have no such problems and conservative Democrats routinely contribute and help find contributors for "their" candidates. I've been trying for years to get progressives to do likewise and it's just virtually impossible. Even when they agree it's a good idea, they almost never do it. There's always some staffer in the way or some lame reason it can't be done. The exception, of course, is Alan Grayson, who has been incredibly generous with his time and advise as well as with helping progressives like Daylin and Carl reach a strong grassroots audience. So... if you decide to contribute to Daylin and Carl today... don't forget Alan!

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