Today, the House of Representatives voted 205-217 to reject an amendment restricting the National Security Agency’s collection of Americans’ phone records. From Politico:
Sponsored by Michigan Republican Rep. Justin Amash, the measure forced lawmakers to put themselves on record in support of the surveillance program revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, which critics say oversteps the Constitution’s protections against unreasonable search and seizure. The White House and the NSA both strongly opposed the measure.
Not only do the White House and the NSA refuse to hold themselves accountable for their criminal actions, but a majority of the House is with them (94-134 among Republicans, 111-83 among Democrats), thanks to lobbying efforts by NSA head Gen. Keith Alexander. The small margin of the vote can also be credited to petitions that supported the measure by groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and Credo Action.
The Amash/Coyers Amendment, which would have been attached to a Pentagon spending bill, “bars the NSA and other agencies from using Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act to collect records that pertain to persons who are not subject to an investigation.”
The proposal and Amash have received criticism from opponents who have claimed that such restrictions would “leave the nation at risk.” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), even went so far as to say that the House was not in the business of racking “likes” on Facebook when referring to Amash, and claimed that passing the proposal would have “real consequences.”
Despite the proposal’s rejection in the House, representatives on both sides of the aisle have agreed to bring up similar legislation as early as this fall, when the intelligence committee is due to present its annual intelligence policy bill.
For now, however, the amendment’s rejection proves that the NSA does not want to restrict its surveillance programs, despite allegations that the collected phone records have played virtually no role in stopping terror plots.
- White House urges Congress to reject moves to curb NSA surveillance (guardian.co.uk)
- The White House Blasts The ‘Amash Amendment’ That Would Hamper The NSA’s Surveillance Powers (businessinsider.com)
- House rejects effort to curb NSA surveillance powers (redalertpolitics.com)