Yesterday, an amendment proposed by Rep. Amash that would have dramatically undermined the NSA’s authority to collect records on the phone calls of American citizens failed to pass. Proponents of the amendment claimed that it protected the Fourth Amendment rights of the public. Those opposed argued that it would erode national security.
The debate back and forth was perhaps the best encapsulation of the current conversation in Congress concerning the pervasive surveillance of the NSA that has recently become better known, mostly through the prism of leaks from the now fugitive Edward Snowden. That information has divided Congressional representatives and senators, demanding that they choose a side, at least rhetorically, on the issue.
Yesterday was a further step in the direction of accountability, albeit only in the lower chamber of Congress. The members had to vote yes or no on whether to defund a known – and previously lied about – program that collects private data on Americans sans their status as party to an investigation.
You’ve read coverage on the NSA for months, with commentary of all sorts taking positions on both the digital and telephonic collection practices of the agency. The following debate isn’t a cable news segment stacked with paid pundits, half-neck analysts, or think-tank hacks. Instead, this is our Congress, arguing with itself, about how to handle our privacy.
The amendment failed 205-217. That’s a defeat, but those in favor of its passage were greater in number than many, myself included, anticipated.
Enjoy [Debate begins at 16:40]:
Top Image Credit: Zoe Rudisill