Monday, April 28, 2014

Swalwell Again Avoids Questioning Over His Vote Allowing Government Spying

CONGRESS | 15TH DISTRICT | For the second straight public forum, Rep. Eric Swalwell again sidestepped his April 2013 vote that would have allowed the government to request the Web histories of ordinary citizens without their knowledge. Swalwell voted for the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, known as CISPA, which passed by the House last spring, but was never taken up by the U.S. Senate.

Similar to a candidate’s forum for the 15th Congressional District held April 15 in Castro Valley, Swalwell failed to acknowledge the likely problematic vote for privacy advocates and, instead, focused his response solely on another government spying vote he supported, a budget amendment to defund the National Security Agency’s (NSA) program of warrantless monitoring of cell phone metadata.

“There was one vote on the NSA spying program, just one vote in the Congress,” said Swalwell, a first-term congressman seeking re-election, “and that vote was to defund the program and I voted to defund the program.”

In the past, as an Alameda County prosecutor, Swalwell said he successfully used cell phone metadata to prove some of his cases, however, with a warrant. Speaking of his vote to defund the NSA program last July, he said, “There reason I did that, and it wasn’t easy because I was a prosecutor and for seven years, I used cell phone data to prove many of my cases." Swalwell prosecuted his last three homicide using cell phone data, he said. “But in each and every one of those cases I had to go to a judge and I had to get a warrant. I had to show probable cause that I could go in and invade the privacy of the person whose cell phone record I was seeking to use.”

The NSA, he said, is not following this procedure when it seeks records in bulk without any correlation to fighting terrorism from abroad. “We must not sacrifice privacy for security,” he added.

It’s the second time Swalwell’s Democratic challenger, State Sen. Ellen Corbett, has gently referred to her opponent’s vote on CISPA. “The role of congress is to protect citizens and, again, one of our most important, precious things is our personal privacy. It is Congress’ role to ensure an agency such as the NSA performs the role it was set up to do, not unduly intrude upon the privacy of individuals.” When it came to CISPA, Corbett later added, “One member of the California delegation voted for that measure.” That person being Swalwell.

The replay among the three candidates over government spying was so similar to two weeks ago that it suggests it will become a major campaign theme in the November general election. Republican Hugh Bussell also registered a similar refrain to two weeks ago by acknowledging the government illegally spied on Americans. “Congress has a fundamental oversight right and a fundamental responsibility over the NSA,” said Bussell. He then added, “The only reason [the NSA is] there is to protect us. It’s not there to spy on us. Well, we should say, it wasn’t created to spy on us.”


  1. We all like Eric, he's done a fantastic job, and will be returned in a landslide.

    That woman will need to line up a gig at a Sac. town lobbying firm, and there are plenty. Mind you, she'll have to start at the bottom, doing an internship and getting coffee first. Needs to gain some sperinece first.

    Mrs. Madge Blekins.

  2. It's called denial.

  3. Anon 7:21 and our Congressman have a lot in common. They are both serial liars. Can't vote for liars----it's Ellen Corbett for us.

  4. CISPA had exactly zero to do with NSA spying. Though Congressman Swalwell's vote in favor seemed out of place with the rest of his record, calling that vote a vote for NSA spying -- when the White House issued veto threats for both CISPA and the Amash amendment defunding NSA domestic cell phone surveillance -- represents a real stretch.

  5. Do you think people care who is spying on them more than they do about being spied on in the first place?

  6. Swalwell's lies when he ran against Stark were never reported in the mainstream press(except for the Citizen) and most of us overlooked them because we didn't like Stark, including me. This is a different race against Ellen Corbett who is a well liked, experienced, capable and trusted woman. My wife and I voted for Eric last time but this time will vote for Ellen. His lies have caught up with our Congressman. We can't stand someone who says one thing and does another on so many different occasions.

  7. I think conflating CISPA and the NSA spying represents journalistic malpractice, Steven -- but that's what I expect with your coverage of Congressman Eric Swalwell and the 15th District!

  8. How is it different? The point here is why does he avoid talking about CISPA? I know what his answer should be and it's a plausible response.