In late July, an amendment that would have defunded the NSA’s phone metadata collection program was brought to the House floor. It was narrowly defeated in a 205-217 vote, but now one of the lawmakers who voted against it wants to bring it back.
Rep. Darrell Issa, a lawmaker that’s usually pretty good on tech issues, originally voted no on the Amash amendment back in July. In a new letter to Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Issa says that his vote against the amendment was made in response to assurances that the NSA would be subject to a “substantive legislative review.” That obviously hasn’t happened yet. Instead, a recently declassified FISA court decision has forced him to reconsider his original vote on the matter:
Prior to earlier votes on the House floor on amendments to limit NSA intelligence gathering programs, members of Congress were given assurances that there would be a substantive legislative review of their scope and function. Now that it has been publicly acknowledged that the communications of Americans were included in the NSA’s data collection program, likely violating their Fourth Amendment rights, Congress must respond in a manner that both increases the transparency of the Agency’s programs and reinforces the constitutional protections of our citizens.
Now that the House has come back into session, I respectfully request that you move legislation to the floor, including the language of the Amash Amendment that was narrowly defeated on July 26, 2013 during debate on the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, as quickly as possible. Government actions that violate the Constitution cannot be tolerated and Congress must act to ensure the NSA and the rest of the intelligence community permanently cease such acts and hold the appropriate individuals accountable.
What’s interesting about this is that it might be indicative of a larger flip-flop on the NSA in Congress. TechDirt’s Mick Masnick certainly thinks so as he sees Issa’s newly found support of the Amash amendment to be evidence that “the tiny majority that the NSA had in the House on this issue is long gone.”
We certainly can’t say for sure what will happen, but the NSA is already dealing with a lot of heat from Congress these days. Not all of the proposed bills thus far want to outright defund the agency, but there’s a concerted effort to at least make it more transparent. The Obama administration might like to think that it’s already being transparent enough, but lawmakers, corporations and citizens all think they could be doing a lot more to ensure that the NSA doesn’t abuse its power.[Image: Darrell Issa/Facebook]