In a speech today given while waiting in line at SaladWorks, President Obama called for funding to equip all members of Congress with body cameras, in addition to police.“Congress is supposed to serve and protect the American people.Based on recent shocking tragedies, it is clear that more oversight is necessary.This pattern of lawmakers harming the citizens of this nation with impunity needs to end.The next time you feel threatened and hastily fire off a bad law, the country will be watching.”
The plan calls for each member of the House and Senate to wear a clip-on camera that would record video and audio whenever they are legislating, campaigning, or fundraising.Footage would be uploaded nightly and available online for viewing by anyone who wonders what on earth their elected officials are actually doing.“Sunlight is the best disinfectant.Never again will you have to wonder if the person you voted for is actually taking notes during committee meetings or just playing Angry Birds,” Obama added.
Body cameras are already showing up in certain police departments around the country.A recent study in one California town showed that body cameras correlated with a significant drop in both police officers’ use of force and civilian complaints against law enforcement.Predictions are mixed whether the Obama plan would cause a similar reduction in civilian complaints against Congress, and the Government Accountability Office has yet to issue a report on the topic.Several companies who make the cameras are planning to bid on the contract, though more testing is needed to see if any models would interfere with the Pacemakers used by some senior lawmakers.
Republican critics on Capitol Hill have rejected the idea completely.“This is just another shameless power grab by this administration,” said Speaker John Boehner.“Requiring Congress to wear cameras would disrupt basic Congressional duties, such as exchanging political favors for campaign contributions and wearing American Flag lapel pins.”Democratic leaders are cautiously receptive to the idea, with some members expressing concerns that the microphones have a “mute” button for classified intelligence briefings and when they have extramarital sex with lobbyists.
MoveOn.org announced the plan “doesn’t go far enough”, calling for Supreme Court Justices to also wear body cameras while deliberating and writing opinions.However, polls overwhelmingly indicate that this would be “too damn boring”.