As we reported earlier, Republican Justin Amash (MI-03) and Democrat John Conyers (MI-13) jointly introduced an amendment to the Pentagon spending bill now going through the House that would bar the NSA from spending any money to perform surveillance on any citizen who is not already the subject of an investigation.
From the fact sheet at Amash’s site (my emphasis and some reparagraphing):
Amash Amendment #100: Stop NSA’s Blanket Surveillance of Americans
On Wednesday, the House will have its first floor debate over NSA’s blanket collection of Americans’ telephone records. The Amash-Conyers amendment—and only the Amash-Conyers amendment—ends the indiscriminate collection of those records. The amendment limits the government’s collection of records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act to those records that pertain to a person who is subject to an investigation under that provision. …
The Amash-Conyers amendment ends NSA’s blanket collection of Americans’ telephone records. It does this by requiring the FISA court under Sec. 215 to order the production of records that pertain only to a person under investigation.
The amendment has three important practical effects.
First, it ends the mass surveillance of Americans. The government no longer is authorized under Sec. 215 to hold a pool of metadata on every phone call of every American.
Second, the amendment permits the government to continue to acquire business records and other “tangible things” that are actually related to an authorized counterterrorism investigation. The government still has access to this tool under the amendment, but it’s forced to comply with the intent of Congress when it passed Sec. 215.
Third, the amendment imposes more robust judicial oversight of NSA’s surveillance. The FISA court will be involved every time NSA searches Americans’ records, and the court will have a substantive, statutory standard to apply to make sure the NSA does not violate Americans’ civil liberties. …
Seems straightforward. The text of the amendment is here (pdf). The amendment is cleverly designed to be ruled in order by the House Parliamentarian whether the Speaker wants it brought to the floor or not.
To counter, Boehner and Pelosi brought another amendment — sponsored by Mike Pompeo, as it turns out, instead of Rich Nugent, as originally reported — to provide a “fig-leaf” place to vote for members who needed to sell the appearance of caring about privacy. That passed 409-12. Hurray for the twelve, though a Yes vote was meaningless by design, so no harm done. (Why Pompeo instead of Nugent? You’ll see below.)
Conservative Republicans leery of what they see as Obama administration abuses of power teamed up with liberal Democrats long opposed to intrusive intelligence programs. The Obama administration made common cause with the House Republican leadership to try to block it.
So there, lovers of liberty; it’s heroes and villains time.
I haven’t analyzed this data yet, but I want to put it before you, since it matters. Anyone who voted Yes on Amash-Conyers, for whatever reason, is a hero. Anyone who voted No is a villain.
Here are the votes, via the House clerk’s website. Republicans in Roman (standard) type. Democrats in Italic type. Independents are underlined. I’ve added some preliminary bolding.
Yes Votes on Amash-Conyers (the Heroes)
Lujan Grisham (NM)
Luján, Ben Ray (NM)
Sánchez, Linda T.
No Votes on Amash-Conyers (the Villains)
Johnson, E. B.
Not Voting (the Otherwise-Engaged)
The leaders and staff of the Congressional Progressive Caucus whipped for the amendment. You’ll see CPC members through the Yes list (and a number of them in the No list as well, like Schakowsky and Kaptur). Becerra, Clyburn and Crowley broke with the rest of the Dem leaders to vote Yes. Pelosi, Hoyer, Israel, Larsen, Van Hollen and Wasserman Schultz are in the walk-of-shame list, of course.
There are also some hardcore wingers in the Yes list. I bolded Nugent’s name, since he was supposed to be the author of the phoney-baloney amendment that Pompeo ended up fronting for. Looks like Nugent didn’t like the phoney, or the baloney, after all. Sensenbrenner (a Yes) is one of the men credited with authoring the Patriot Act.
I’ll analyze this more thoroughly later and offer suggestions for whom to call, with phone numbers in the post. I’ll be especially interested to see how this list squares with this one, which we offered earlier.
If you want to get a head start, House phone numbers are here. Go for it; you don’t need permission to pick up the phone.
This is far from over. Most of DC is shocked; good.
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