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Exclusive – Congressman Daines at Montana GOP Convention: CISPA Protects Privacy

Montana Republicans converged in Bozeman Friday and Saturday for the 2013 state GOP convention. Tensions over state party leadership lingered from a legislative session in which numerous bills were passed as a result of a small group of Republicans who broke ranks and voted with Democratic lawmakers. The sense of urgency to resolve internal conflicts is heightened by revelations in recent weeks of questionable, abusive and illegal actions taken by the IRS, the Department of Justice and the National Security Agency.

Tensions between the reported factions were in evidence at times, and were to some degree locked in for the foreseeable future by the re-election of incumbent chairman Will Deschamps and the election of Jennifer Fielder as vice. Differences aside, delegates and elected officials alike eagerly looked forward to the arrival of Congressman Steve Daines Saturday afternoon. One attendee noted that it took Daines more than half an hour to navigate a hundred feet or so from the hotel entrance to the atrium. His popularity is clearly one potential source for shoring up the GOP in Big Sky Country.

During a brief lull on the action, Congressman Daines responded to concerns over his having voted in favor of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which many have criticised for compromising individual liberties.

As Slate reported in April:

The ACLU has described CISPA as an “extreme proposal” that “forges new ground.” The Electronic Frontier Foundation says it “would provide a gaping exception to bedrock privacy law.” And even the White House has criticized the bill, earlier this week threatening to veto it unless it is amended to include better privacy and civil liberties safeguards.

Watchdog Wire-Montana asked Congressman Daines how he would square his support for CISPA with the public’s outrage over the reported and unprecedented abuses of citizens by the National Security Agency.

Before CISPA passed,  the House of Representatives made “nineteen changes related to privacy. You start with rights and privacy, and we don’t give up liberty for security”, Daines said. “Those nineteen improvements are what got me over the hump so I could vote for it.”

The changes that resulted from months in committee also locked in congressional oversight by the House Committee on Homeland Security. “Data collected under CISPA doesn’t go to the NSA. It goes to DHS.” While that may seem small consolation to angry Americans, it does allow the question of cyber security to be addressed without granting the legal authority to a single branch of the federal government. The need for the separation of powers cannot be made more clear than it has been by the IRS, the DOJ, and now the NSA.

Michael Mattson

Michael Mattson is State Editor for Watchdog Wire – Montana. He is founder and Executive Editor of The Hellroaring Review, an online literary journal that focuses on very short (“flash”) fiction, as well as The Hellroaring Report, a news aggregator focused on the Mountain West and Northern Plains. Contact Michael at Montana@WatchdogWire.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Hell_Roaring

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Categories: Events, Government Transparency, Must Read, Policy, Regulation, Waste, Fraud and Abuse
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