President Barack Obama is losing support among numerous Democratic lawmakers with each new controversy engulfing the scandal-weary White House.
The disclosures this week that the Obama administration has seemingly morphed into a surveillance state by sifting through millions of Americans' phone and Internet records has angered left-of-center Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado who are in open disagreement with the president.
“We disagree with the statement that the broad Patriot Act collection strikes the 'right balance' between protecting American security and protecting Americans' privacy. In our view it does not,” the senators said.
Liberal icon and former presidential contender Al Gore also lashed out in a tweet that the secret blanket surveillance was “obscenely outrageous.”
Now Democratic Party stalwarts on the House Judiciary Committee are demanding congressional hearings on the use of Verizon phone records to track calls made in the United States.
The lawmakers include Democratic Reps. John Conyers of Michigan, Jerry Nadler of New York and Bobby Scott of Virginia, who took exception to the president’s claim that Congress has been briefed on the surveillance.
“We strongly disagree with those who would assert that because this type of program appears to be long standing and members of Congress may have been briefed, that it is acceptable to us or the Congress,” the lawmakers said in a statement. “A classified briefing which does not permit any public discussion does not imply approval or acceptance.”
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois told Politico
that he is troubled by the practice.
“To say that every American’s records of phone conversations are now open to government scrutiny really goes to beyond that standard,” Durbin said.
The Guardian reports
that Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia suggested Attorney General Eric Holder should resign, and Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon called the surveillance practice an “outrageous breach of Americans’ privacy.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has launched a campaign among its followers to pressure the president to cancel the program.
“The unconstitutional spying on Americans revealed by the Verizon court order is completely unacceptable,” said a petition already signed by 29,000 members.
The New York Times condemned
the administration in a hard-hitting editorial saying it has lost all credibility, but later fine-tuned the language to limit the credibility issue to the surveillance scandal.
The controversy follows on the heels of an avalanche of congressional hearings on the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups and wasteful spending that drew heated criticism from Democrats, as well as two separate surveillance stings of the Associated Press and a Fox News reporter.
Rep. Charles Rangel of New York told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the president should have the opportunity to right the wrongs, but that doesn’t mean Democrats will blindly march in lockstep with the president.
“You just can’t raise the flag and expect us just to salute it every time without any reason, and the same thing applies to the IRS,” Rangel sa
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