House to Debate Curb on NSA Surveillance

By:  Jack Kenny
07/24/2013
       
House to Debate Curb on NSA Surveillance

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday is scheduled to debate an amendment to curb the National Security Agency's collection of records of billions of phone calls made and received by Americans each day.

A vote on the measure, proposed by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) as an amendment to a defense appropriations bill, could occur as early as Wednesday evening or Thursday morning, The Guardian of London reported.

The White House, the NSA, and the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Intelligence Committee are all vigorously opposing the measure. NSA Director General Keith Alexander spent hours in closed-door meetings on Capitol Hill Tuesday in an effort to persuade legislators to shelve the amendment.

"This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open or deliberative process," said a statement issued by White House press secretary Jay Carney Tuesday. "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."

After Alexander spent four hours in meetings with Amash and other House members, Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the committee's top Democrat, urged their colleagues to vote down the amendment.

"While many members have legitimate questions about the NSA metadata program, including whether there are sufficient protections for Americans' civil liberties, eliminating this program altogether without careful deliberation would not reflect our duty under Article I of the Constitution to provide for the common defense," Rogers and Ruppersberger wrote in an open letter to House members. The amendment would have "unintended consequences for the intelligence and law enforcement communities beyond the metadata program," they warned.

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