“A showdown is set to take place in the US House of Representatives today in what many hope will be a watershed moment for the fight against the National Security Agency’s dragnet surveillance programs,” Joshua Kopstein reports for The Verge. “After weeks of outrage from members of Congress and the public, a novel amendment to an annual defense appropriations bill is looking to smother what some consider the most pernicious aspect of the spying activities exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.”

“The amendment, led by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), would stop the NSA’s phone metadata program from collecting millions of Americans’ communications records without suspicion of a crime,” Kopstein reports. “The proposal comes after a secret court order revealed that Verizon is being forced to turn over all its customers’ calling records to the NSA on an ‘ongoing, daily basis,’ and the threat has become real enough that the federal government is now intervening in an attempt to stop the amendment from passing.”

“On Tuesday, NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander held a unexpected, four-hour confidential briefing, presumably to try and persuade lawmakers into rejecting the proposal when it comes to vote this week,” Kopstein reports. “The White House also issued a panicked statement, protesting that the amendment is ‘not the product of an informed, open or deliberative process’ and urging instead for ‘an approach that appropriately takes into account the need for a reasoned review of what tools can best secure the nation.'”

Kopstein reports, “But a lack of information and open dialogue is exactly what’s been at the core of the controversy surrounding the NSA programs. Speaking yesterday at Center for American Progress, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) said that the public was ‘actively misled’ about the metadata program, warning that ‘the combination of increasingly advanced technology with a breakdown in the checks and balances that limit government action could lead us to a surveillance state that cannot be reversed.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: United States Constitution, Amendment IV:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Join The Electronic Frontier Foundation in calling for a full congressional investigation here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

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