Privacy advocates have generally come from two directions: (1) libertarians, and (2) liberal Democrats. But on March 7, WikiLeaks’ data dump revealed some of the surveillance techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that even George Orwell couldn’t dream up. And Democrats have remained largely silent.
Normally, a revelation of this magnitude would rally the anti-war, privacy-protecting, and transparency-demanding left. Evidence of the growing taste for partisanship over principle, however, shows that Democrats are not only quiet, they are actually defending the CIA and its downright unconstitutional tactics.
When President George W. Bush introduced the Patriot Act, for example, several Democrats warned of the dangers of expanding government surveillance powers -- even in the wake of 9/11. Former Senator Russ Feingold addressed the Senate floor, raising his concerns over the potential breach of privacy:
“…we must continue to respect our Constitution and protect our civil liberties in the wake of the attacks… “Preserving our freedom is one of the main reasons that we are now engaged in this new war on terrorism. We will lose that war without firing a shot if we sacrifice the liberties of the American people. That is why I found the antiterrorism bill originally proposed by Attorney General Ashcroft and President Bush to be troubling.”
But where are the impassioned speeches from our liberal friends today, denouncing the CIA’s invasive spying practices that are not even subject to government oversight? Nowhere.
A new NBC/WSJ poll shows that since President Trump ramped up criticism of the CIA, Democrats suddenly view the agency with a net favorability of 32%, while Republicans' net favorability declined to just 4%.
According to NBC, the same poll from 2015 showed a 27% net favorability view with Republicans, versus -4% from Democrats.
The liberal media has also joined the CIA defense league. The day of the WikiLeaks blast, for example, Stephen Colbert invited the former director of the CIA and NSA Michael Hayden on his show. The two literally laughed away the privacy concerns and insisted that you should only be afraid of the latest WikiLeaks revelations if you have something to hide:
Even U.S. Representative Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), who has been a longtime advocate for privacy rights, joined the partisan chorus. The California representative posted a tweet that included, “We are #DeepState,” suggesting solidarity with the secretive surveillance agency.
Apparently, privacy is also a partisan issue now.