Obama administration scrambles to shut down imminent U.S. House vote to defund NSA spying

“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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How Microsoft handed U.S. NSA, FBI, CIA access to users’ encrypted video, audio, and text communications – July 11, 2013
DuckDuckGo search engine surges 33% in wake of PRISM scandal – June 20, 2013
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Nine companies, including Apple, tied to PRISM, Obama to be smacked with class-action lawsuit – June 12, 2013
U.S. lawmakers urge review of ‘Prism’ domestic spying, Patriot Act – June 10, 2013
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Plausible deniability: The strange and unbelievable similarities in the Apple, Google, and Facebook PRISM denials – June 7, 2013
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Report: Intelligence program gives U.S. government direct access to customer data on Apple servers; Apple denies – June 6, 2013


  1. Funny how this program started with Bush, continued with Obama and now everybody is acting indignant. This vote makes no difference. Spying, internal and external, is truly the worlds oldest profession and will continue by private enterprise, domestic and international, and governments world wide, even though politicos are Shocked! Absolutely shocked!

      1. Yes. Absolute, effective secrecy is quite dangerous. During the Cold War it was important that each side know the capabilities and intentions of the other. Otherwise very serious miscalculations could occur. I’m with Ben in not wanting to trade any of my freedom and privacy for security. The massive spying by NSA is dangerous in the long run. Actors in the future may not be so trustworthy as now. We should demand that the 4th Amendment be observed….even if it causes us a little more risk. Real terrorism has yet to come to the USA shores. Israel is subjected to real terrorism. We have seen only terror theater as with 9/11. Good ole police work will protect us from real terrorism more than massive capture of the whole Internet traffic.

      2. so in what danger were we ever, here in the U.S.?!

        N = Canada. they’re naturalists, no danger to anyone.
        S = Mexico: they have no economic reason to invade U.S.
        E/W = water. no invasions.

        WOMD = fantasy we invented for excuse to invade others ourselves! for the PetroDollar. The US$ that is now worth zilch. we opened cans of worms or incited Te.rr.or.ism ourselves. The biggest culprit for T. is our top M.E. ally Israel that controls our gov. & our budget & our taxes. Wake up!

        there was never any danger to US. except that every year we’re paying the highest price on earth for Israel. of what benefit is Israel to us!? there would be no M.E. problem if not for it. why not just pay our taxes to Israel but even send our kids to die for their war?! war that would never affect us so far away from the M.E. Oil is a total excuse as we have more natural gas under each state than all of Arabian Peninsula…

        so, how is spying a necessity?
        esp. one that is so necessary it includes spying on our own EU allies and hypocritically expect them to form a transatlantic customs free pact?! are we that arrogant to think we’re worthier than our allies, as if we’re somehow superior or Chosen people?!

        come on! grow up! smell the reality.
        the globe no longer take us serious.
        we’re no better or smarter than any other, and our dear democracy that we hail as the ultimate form of liberty does not exist since our gov. is a police state à la 1984.

        now if your solution is typical, to tell me to f’off & leave if i don’t like it anymore, then you’ve missed the whole point of our constitution: to express freely, the right to keep the rights in check, unlike you dormant, blindly jingoistic false patriots…

      1. The Patriot Act opened the floodgates to allow for surveillance of any kind for homeland security which was heralded by Bush/Cheney as the right process to do.

    1. Actually, I think sex came before intrigue. Pretty sure the world’s oldest profession is prostitution. Even if it only looked like a caveman with a pheasant shambling up to a cavewoman: My dear? He gives her the bird, she bends over.

    2. Food scavenging is probably oldest profession. Tool crafting, hunting, and pottery came after that. Long after that came professional farming. Spying came tens of thousands of years after farming, when the politics of warring city states made it worthwhile.

  2. Osama received a religious opinion from a leading Muslim cleric that God would love it if Osama killed Americans with a weapon of mass destruction—but only up to four million (God demands strict limits on this sort of carnage, apparently).

    The 911 hijackers took flight training here in the U.S. and, for the most part, paid for it with student loans and grants so Americans could pay for special efforts.

    The Executive branch is wearing their “big-boy long trousers” on this issue (worrying about nasty stuff that is too nasty to discuss here), so your average Joe can go about his daily life and think that issues like a neighbor borrowing a hedge trimmer too long is a really big deal.

    1. Greg, Yep…. and the 911 hijackers were aliens. Real aliens. from the planet Mongo. Here to test our defenses. They teleported out just before the planes crash, of course.
      But other than that, I would say you are spot on….

      Yep, use the tin foil, it stops the microwaves used to control our minds.

      Just saying.

  3. MDN: Please don’t post purely politic stuff on this site. It’s bad enough that so much discussion degenerates to that here. If I want politics I’ll go somewhere appropriate. Especially since this bears no relation to my own country. Even if I were American, I would not want this on my site of Mac discussion.

    1. This is tech news and is relevant to all of Mac-using American friends because the government is spying on your computer-based communications without a warrant.

      1. I thoroughly agree. This isn’t about a government agricultural subsidy program, this is entirely relevant to technology and Apple. Anyone who thinks otherwise must not be connected to the internet, but then if he is not how did cococanuck post here?

      1. Nowhere in the white house statement does it mention the FISA court, nor in the article. My point is that The headline is misleading, bc the whitehouse said the opposite.

          1. Yes, it is… The satetement says to have a deliberative process. It is not saying to stop the vote. If you read the billl and the amendment itself (which i have), you will see what im talking about. The language does not defund the programs, only shifst resources to another area, while renaming the program something else.

            1. okay, let me ask you this: do you consider it in the best interests of the Obama administration’s policy to use the “prestige and power” of the office to thwart the passage of the amendment? Virtually every statement that spews from Obama is a river of lies.

            2. It does not matter at all what Obama and his administration says in public. The fact that he and his NSA were doing all this behind closed doors says everything we need to know about Obama’s policies on this matter.

            3. Giving you the benefit of the doubt. What else is he missing apart from an administration that ran on a platform which promised to restore civil liberties, but is instead the biggest thief of freedoms the USA has ever seen?

    1. obamination lies: transparency was the mantra; but, lies and tyranny are the true operational actions
      absolutely disgraceful, unethical and dangerous behavior is what we got

      1. Keeping digital records of our online data is not tyranny, but using it against us at a later date is. Can you provide an example of any instance where NSA collected data has been used against you or anyone else? I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, just that making the claim that possession of these records is tyranny is ridiculous.

        1. Collecting the data and keeping it on American citizens without probable cause and without a court issued warrant is tyranny. WIthout any later actions, it is already a violation of the 4th amendment and is tyranny. Supporting this action is also tyranny similar to Hitler youth saluting Hitler.

          You are either a friend of liberty and freedom and believe in the rights given in the constitution or you do not. You cannot be on the fence on this issue.

          1. TY for continuing to work to enlighten
            I sincerely appreciate the fact that y’all
            are willing to take this bottom up task on
            and do it so well
            happy trails

    1. “Bathtub falls and police officers kill more Americans than terrorism…yet we’ve been asked to sacrifice our most sacred rights for fear of falling victim to it.”

      Edward Snowden

      1. The US government did more than “know” about them – they armed, trained, and funded the Taliban back when they wanted to tilt the odds against the Soviets in their war in Afghanistan. Look it up sometime. History can be really interesting.

        1. So you’re implying that because Yes, the US assisted those fighting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, for which we’re still paying the price for that stupidity today, therefore the current US government knew everything about the 9/11 terrorists??? Quite the leap. Quite the ridiculous leap.

    2. Anyone who imagines for one second that this surveillance bill going through would stop any further attacks on the ConUS are delusional. By and large, terrorists aren’t stupid, they keep communication to the minimum, and operate in very small, unconnected cells now. All the spycraft and surveillance didn’t stop bombs being detonated during a recent Marathon, did it.

      1. When we were WARNED by the Russians about these 2 guys and had a reason to know that they could very well be dangerous, and we did NOTHING. You simply cannot justify any spying at all. No spying.

  4. This is an issue that many Americans of differing political viewpoints can agree upon. The DINO in the White House needs to lose this one big. The NSA dragnet is illegal and our rights were not granted by government- they are charged with defending them.

    1. Thank you. And as someone who voted for Bush and never for Obama, I don’t let Bush off the hook here either. Spying on American citizens without a court ordered warrant and justified by probable cause is illegal and is unconstitutional and should never happen for any reason whatsoever. War on Terror be damned.

  5. NSA over-reach is _NOT_ a partisan issue, please don’t report it like it is one.

    Speaker Boehner (R, OH) has publicly expressed no support for Amash’s bill, though he caved and is allowing a vote because he knows the public supports Snowden and privacy protection. So despite no real support amongst republican leadership, two democrats co-sponsored the bill: Reps. John Conyers (D, MI), Jared Polis (D, CO). The “Patriot Act” was a crappy idea when Bush signed it, and it’s still a crappy idea when Obama renewed it.

  6. IT IS TIME for a PRIVACY AMENDMENT to the US Constitution. We need this debate and resolution of this profound issue. It is about defining who we are as a people.

    1. There already is one, The Fourth. The Fifth, Sixth and Eighth seem to be being trampled upon also.

      4th Prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and sets out requirements for search warrants based on probable cause

      5th Sets out rules for indictment by grand jury and eminent domain, protects the right to due process, and prohibits self-incrimination and double jeopardy

      6th Protects the right to a fair and speedy public trial by jury, including the rights to be notified of the accusations, to confront the accuser, to obtain witnesses and to retain counsel

      8th Prohibits excessive fines and excessive bail, as well as cruel and unusual punishment

      Summaries from Wikipedia

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