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Amash Rattles Obama’s Surveillance State

Support Amash NSA Amendment
Principled limited government constitutional conservative Representative Justin Amash (MI-3) has submitted to the House Committee on Rules an amendment to put the National Security Agency (NSA) back inside its proper constitutional boundaries. (click here to read version 100 of the amendment, click here to read version 101 of the amendment)

Amash’s amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014 that would limit the National Security Agency’s use of taxpayer funds under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Apparently this has finally gotten the attention of the Obama administration and the bureaucrats that run the surveillance state it is creating in the face of congressional acceptance of its arguments for “sacrificing liberty for security.”

Yesterday, Obama’s NSA head, General Keith Alexander, scheduled a last-minute, members-only briefing in response to the amendment, according to an invitation distributed to members of Congress and shared by Members of Congress with various news outlets.

The briefing was sponsored by Democratic Congressman, and reliable Obama water boy, C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee.

According to reporting by the writers at the liberal Huffington Post, “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.”

Amash has been a leader the small band of principled limited government constitutional conservatives fighting to get the NSA’s outrageously broad domestic surveillance program back inside strict constitutional limits. Amash has been joined on the amendment by constitutional conservative Representative Tom Massie of Kentucky and others.

Amash’s  amendment is quite simple: “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to collect tangible things (including telephone numbers dialed, telephone numbers of incoming calls, and the duration of calls) pursuant to an order under section 501 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1861) if such things do not pertain to a person who is the subject of an investigation described in such section.”

This would effectively prohibit the NSA from spending money collecting the phone records of anyone who is not an actually target of a national security investigation authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).

As the HuffPo noted, the section of the Patriot Act that Amash is targeting was the subject of the first piece in UK’s The Guardian newspaper about NSA leaker Edward Snowden's revelations. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the secret intelligence court, has interpreted the law to allow the NSA to collect hundreds of millions of records on every American phone call under the theory that such records might be useful in future terrorism investigations. The intelligence community has claimed that the law is useful in thwarting potential terrorist incidents.

However, as the Huffington Post’s writers noted, 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.

As Amash noted when this news of the NSA domestic surveillance program broke, “The government is vacuuming up data on every call made by every customer of a major phone company. This sort of sweeping surveillance is not even plausibly authorized by statute, let alone the Constitution.”

Amash’s principled stand for liberty and privacy is in stark contrast to the House Republican leadership who have largely ignored the illegal and unconstitutional acts of the Obama security apparatus in favor of a “security at any cost” attitude toward the NSA.

“The astonishing amount of information the government is secretly seizing from Americans should shock anyone who has even a passing interest in privacy, civil liberties, or the Constitution,” said Amash.

We agree.

In addition to actually curtailing the extra-constitutional actions of the Obama NSA – if it passes – the great benefit of Amash’s amendment will be to put every Member of the House on the record with regard to the Obama NSA’s overreach.

Civil libertarians are gearing-up to support the Amash amendment and it will be interesting to see if the Republican leadership allows Amash’s amendment to be made in order and get a debate and a vote on the House floor.

Check CHQ as the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014 moves through the process for further information and coverage on this important issue.

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Spying on Americans

We would not have potential terrorists if the borders were not wide open, so this is a policy based on bad decisions. We just do not need people from other countries in the first place. We have more than enough already. If we were to be nice and allow political asylum to some, then they should be the ones watched, not the citizens.This program has cost a whole lot of money and created fear of our own government, while catching no terrorists.