House Fails to Repeal NSA’s Dragnet Phone Surveillance Authority

By on July 25, 2013

The House today narrowly defeated an amendment to a defense spending package that would have repealed authorization for the National Security Agency’s dragnet collection of phone-call metadata in the United States.

The amendment to the roughly $600 billion Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014 would have ended authority for the once-secret spy program the White House insists is necessary to protect national security.

The amendment, one of dozens considered, was proposed by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan). “The government collects the phone records without suspicion of every single American of the United States,” he said during heated debate on the measure.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Michigan), in urging a no vote, said “Passing this amendment takes us back to September 10.”

The vote was 205-217.

The Obama administration lobbied hard to stop the amendment’s passage.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said ahead of the vote: “This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process. We urge the House to reject the Amash amendment, and instead move forward with an approach that appropriately takes into account the need for a reasoned review of what tools can best secure the nation.”

Carney did not mention that the massive surveillance program was itself not the product of an informed, open or deliberative process, but rather the product of secret court rulings and classified government memos, which came to light only through leaks by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander and James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, also lobbied lawmakers, urging them to vote no.

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