Amash Amendment

Watch Nancy Pelosi struggle to answer a teenger’s question about her vote to continue unconstitutional NSA spying

Nancy Pelosi

This is great. Andrew Demeter, who runs the YouTube channel TeenTake, recently put House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on the spot by asking her why she supports the National Security Agency’s “illegal and ubiquitous data collection” program.

“Well, I…I do not…I have questions about the metadata collection that they were, uh, collecting unless they had a reason to do so. Uh, so I found…I was one who…I didn’t…I didn’t support Amash, that resolution. I didn’t think that was the appropriate resolution,” Pelosi told Demeter. “Uh, but I do think that the burden is on the, uh, department and I have fought them for years — on the community — on the wide swath that they have put out there.”

Whoops. Wrong video.

Amash seeks to force a vote to end the NSA’s unconstitutional bulk data collection program

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) will try force a vote to end the NSA bulk data collection program through an amendment to the defense authorization bill if House leaders decide to stall on reform or further water down meaningful provisions of the bipartisan USA FREEDOM Act.

In a series of tweets on Monday, Amash, one of the fiercest critics of the NSA bulk data collection program, said that he filed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that is “materially identical” to the version of the USA FREEDOM Act that cleared the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month. The same version of the measure was also approved House Intelligence Committee.

The National Defense Appropriations Act and the USA FREEDOM Act were both listed for consideration on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) weekly floor schedule. But last minute negotiations with the White House over NSA reform could mean that the USA FREEDOM Act will be further watered down.

The Amash amendment, which is cosponsored by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Rush Holt (D-NJ), is tailored to deny funding to execute a FISA court order for phone records not relevant to an authorized investigation.

Amash hints at anti-NSA amendment should proposed reforms fall short

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), a fierce critic of NSA, may once again try to push an amendment to end the intelligence agency’s bulk metadata collection program if dueling legislative proposals pushed by the White House and House Intelligence Committee don’t rein in the controversial intelligence agency:

“We don’t have enough information about the administration’s proposal to really understand where they’re going with it,” Amash said Wednesday.

“We’ve seen some of what the House Intelligence Committee has put out. … Based on what I’ve read about it, it appears to expand the NSA’s authority,” he said. “It doesn’t end bulk collection but actually puts more Americans in danger of having their constitutionally protected rights violated.”
Amash said Wednesday that he is waiting to see what happens with [the USA FREEDOM Act] before deciding whether to push his amendment once again.

“We’ll do it if we need to do it,” Amash said.

“I’d like to see comprehensive legislation like the USA Freedom Act go forward,” he said. “We are certainly willing to consider adding ideas from the Intelligence Committee, from the administration, to that legislation, but if no legislation is going to go forward to protect the rights of Americans, then I’m certainly open to offering further amendments.”

Momentum on side of NSA reformers despite Boehner’s push to legalize domestic spying

The House of Representatives is planning to take up a measure soon, completely bypassing the committee process, that would ostensibly codify the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection surveillance programs. The bill is reportedly similar to a measure recently passed by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

But it seems that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is getting pushback from Republicans who want a vote on legislation that would reform the NSA snooping programs and protect Americans’ privacy, according to The Hill.

Boehner has apparently not learned much since the House took up an amendment, offered by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), in late July to the defense appropriations bill. That amendment would have limited the NSA’s ability to collect data that “pertain[s] to a person who is the subject of an investigation.”

Boehner, President Obama, and the intelligence community opposed the measure, and it was defeated on the House floor, though, by a very slim, 12-vote margin. It was a shot across the bow of the White House and the intelligence community, showing that the anger toward the programs is real.

Sensenbrenner to introduce USA FREEDOM Act today

More than two weeks after outlining principles behind the USA FREEDOM Act in a speech at the Cato Institute, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) will reportedly introduce the anti-domestic surveillance measure today with strong bipartisan support, according to Breitbart, a conservative news outlet.

Sensenbrenner, who sponsored the PATRIOT Act in 2001, has emerged as one of the primary critics of the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs and contends that the Justice Department and intelligence is relying on a broad interpretation of the anti-terrorism law, far beyond congressional intent, to collect Americans’ phone and Internet metadata.

The FREEDOM Act would limit the NSA’s ability to collect data “adopting a uniform standard for intelligence gathering under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act,” according to Sensenbrenner.

What’s more, the measure would reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) by creating a civil liberties advocate, create new reporting requirements and oversight from Congress for the court, and allow the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board subpoena authority. The legislation will also reform National Security Letters (NSL) to ensure that the current administration or its predecessors don’t use another agency to collect bulk data.

Justin Amash passes on Michigan Senate race

Justin Amash

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), an young and outspoken liberty-minded Republican, has decided to pass on the open Senate seat in Michigan, according to a report from the National Journal:

Amash was tempted by the allure of a campaign for higher office, sources say, but the second-term lawmaker ultimately was unwilling to risk surrendering the clout he enjoys among conservatives in the GOP-controlled House. (His advisers also didn’t like the uncertain internal polling against his expected general-election contender, but sources say that didn’t affect Amash’s decision.)
“Justin feels that he’s hitting his stride in the House, and that it’s the best place for him right now,” said one source close to Amash.

The National Journal explained some of the logistical background that ultimately led to the decision, including the fact that Michigan is generally considered to be a blue state. They also note that Amash’s internal polling in the primary “showed him running comfortably ahead of a weak GOP primary field.”

Terri Lynn Land, who served for eight years as Michigan’s Secretary of State, is thought to be the frontrunner for the nomination. Polling shows Land running close to Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI), the likely Democratic nominee. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) believes the race is competitive.

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