In case you aren’t aware, there is a very significant amendment set for a vote in the House of Representatives tomorrow. The amendment was authored by libertarian-Republican of Michigan Justin Amash, and it is to be attached to the Defense Appropriations Bill (which provides funding for the NSA). It is a bipartisan amendment, co-sponsored by Michigan Democrat John Conyers, and it would remove funding for NSA programs using the Patriot Act for blanket collection of phone records and metadata from phone service providers. Here is a summary as it appears on the House of Representatives website:
Ends authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act. Bars the NSA and other agencies from using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records, including telephone call records, that pertain to persons who are not subject to an investigation under Section 215.
The amendment’s supporters have even set up a web page dedicated to spreading the word and I strongly suggest you check it out at www.defundthensa.com
While I know many people will tend to dismiss such amendments by saying “it doesn’t matter,” I would say that if it “doesn’t matter” then why did NSA chief Keith Alexander hold a secret meeting today to lobby against it? Because it matters. From the Huffington Post:
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency called for a “top secret” meeting with members of the House on Tuesday to lobby against the first House amendment to challenge the agency’s authority to cull broad swaths of communications data, according to an invitation circulated in Congress.
NSA head Gen. Keith Alexander scheduled a last-minute, members-only briefing in response to the amendment, according to an invitation distributed to members of Congress this morning and forwarded to HuffPost.
The invitation warned members that they could not share what they learned with their constituents or others. “The briefing will be held at the Top Secret/SCI level and will be strictly Members-Only,” reads the invite.
The intelligence community has claimed that the law is useful in thwarting potential terrorist incidents.
But Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee with access to classified details about the program, said there is no evidence that the data collection had been directly responsible for stopping any single plot. Civil libertarians, meanwhile, are aghast at the NSA’s broad interpretation of the law, and even the bill’s author said he was surprised at how it is being used.
The amendment could draw support from both Democrats and Republicans. Just how much is uncertain — this is the House’s first up-or-down vote on the NSA’s domestic surveillance activities since Snowden made his revelations.
Even if the amendment doesn’t pass, an up or down vote will expose everyone’s representative as either a friend of freedom or an agent of fascism…and that’s important.
Full article here.
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