All hell broke lose in Washington when, to the surprise of many, a bill to limit the NSA’s power to spy on Americans made it out of a House committee. The bill, known as the Amash Amendment for its cosponsor Representative Justin Amash, was attached to the defense spending bill. The law will limit the NSA’s “authority for blanket collections under the Patriot Act.” The NSA spent all of yesterday in emergency meetings trying to convince representatives to kill the bill.
Congressional opposition to the NSA’s bulk surveillance on Americans swelled on Tuesday as the US House prepared to vote on restricting the collection of US phone records and a leading Senate critic blasted a “culture of misinformation” around government surveillance…
In a sign of how crucial the NSA considers its bulk phone records collection, which a secret surveillance court reapproved on Friday, its director, General Keith Alexander, held a four-hour classified briefing with members of Congress. Alexander’s meeting was listed as “top-secret” and divided into two two-hour sessions, the first for Republicans and the second for Democrats. Staffers for the legislators were not permitted to attend.
General Alexander was not the only one lobbying hard to stop the bill. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper – who lied to Congress under oath about the NSA’s collection powers - also came out strong against the bill. Alexander and Clapper were joined by the Obama Administration which also opposed limiting the NSA’s powers to spy on Americans.
The White House issued a statement Tuesday evening, saying that it opposes the amendment and urges the House to reject it.
“In light of the recent unauthorized disclosures, the president has said that he welcomes a debate about how best to simultaneously safeguard both our national security and the privacy of our citizens,” the statement said. “However, we oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our intelligence community’s counterterrorism tools. This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process.”
Apply some heat and light shines through. President Obama opposes transparency and limiting the Surveillance State (and always has). Now you know for sure.
The future of the bill overall is uncertain though it is now guaranteed a vote in the House. This could be the first step in rolling back the police state or a moment of clarity in how antagonistic Washington truly is to the Bill of Rights.