UPDATE: NSA amendment limiting surveillance fails in House vote

The Amash-Conyers amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, that would have limited from whom the NSA could gather meta-data, failed in the House tonight, by only a dozen votes, 205-217. Despite the lobbying by the NSA, and opposition by the Republican House leadership, the measure still garnered enough bipartisan votes to make it close.

Below is the story, filed before the vote, about the amendment.
After failing to get his bipartisan amendment included in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act, which would have eliminated indefinite detentions of US citizens without trial, Michigan Republican, Rep. Justin Amash, has another important civil right amendment for this year’s NDAA.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan)

Written by Amash and Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, John Conyers (D-MI), the Amash-Conyers amendment (HR 2397), scheduled to be voted on Wednesday, would limit the National Security Agency’s dragnet approach to meta-data gathering from phone calls and internet activity, to only those who are specifically being targeted for investigation. The legislation was proposed in the weeks following the exposures of NSA fugitive, Edward Snowden, that the intelligence agency was engaged in the practice of wholesale gathering of the data of millions of innocent people.

The Huffington Post reported, late Tuesday, that NSA chief, Gen. Keith Alexander, invited “members only” of the Intelligence Committee to a “top secret” meeting, supposedly to lobby them to pull the amendment. We supposedly don’t know what happened at the meeting, because they are forbidden from discussing it.

“We urge the House to reject the Amash amendment,” the White House said, Tuesday, through spokesman Jay Carney, “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.”

But the American Civil Liberties Union is urging citizens to call in to their Congressmen and urge them to vote Yes on the amendment. “This amendment would not hamper the government’s ability to gather information regarding terrorists and spies,” the ACLU wrote in a letter to House members, “only its ability to spy on the rest of us in the process.”

It also warned ACLU members, in a separate call-to-action letter, that an alternative amendment, known as the Nugent amendment, is “a red herring amendment that repeats current law and would do nothing to fix the NSA abuses.”

If you haven’t let your representatives know how important this bipartisan amendment is to curbing government overreach, please call them Wednesday morning and remind them that you don’t want the government collecting data on you, or your kids or your friends or your parents.


Also see:

Justin Amash claims strong support for NSA amendment (politico.com)

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