Amash Amendment Narrowly Rejected After Heated (And Partly Ridiculous) Debate

from the lame dept

So, this isn’t a huge surprise, but this evening there was a rather fascinating debate in the House in which Congressional Reps debated and then rejected the Amash Amendment to defund the NSA’s Section 215 efforts to collect every bit of data about every communication made by Americans. While it sucks that the amendment lost, the vote was very close — much closer than most people suspected (which explains why the NSA and the White House had flipped out about the amendment even hitting the floor). The debate about the Amash amendment followed one about an amendment from Rep. Pompeo (which is the same as the Rep. Nugent amendment). As we discussed, the Pompeo/Nugent amendment is a red herring pretending to limit the collection of information, but which really just restates the status quote. The Amash amendment was the important one. The debate was fascinating — seeing a bipartisan group of representatives speak eloquently about protecting our rights and the rights of Americans. However, the defenders of the NSA program really pushed out some crazy claims. Rep. Mike Rogers insisted that the program stopped terrorism — something that has not yet been shown at all. He also claimed that without spying on all Americans we might have another 9/11.

The worst, by far, were the claims from Rep. Michelle Bachmann, who claimed that the Snowden revelations “helped Islamic jihadists” and that if we don’t keep spying on all Americans there will be horrible results… and then immediately lied and claimed that the NSA data collected was “smaller than a phone book” even though others on her side, like Rep. Tom Cotton admitted it was “billions of records.” Bachmann’s misleading attempt at making a point was because the NSA database doesn’t directly include names and addresses, but just phone numbers (and phone calls, locations, people you’re calling). What that leaves out is that the NSA can easily connect its database to a phone book and have that information anyway. Or, as Parker Higgins pointed out, if there’s less info than a phone book, wouldn’t it have been cheaper and easier to just buy the NSA a phone book.

In the end, the Pompeo/Nugent amendment passed by an unfortunately wide margin: 409 to 12. Oddly, the nays were as high as 20 and bounced around up and down for a while, but at the very end of the voting, it looks like a bunch changed their vote. As for the Amash Amendment it wasn’t so lopsided. In fact, it was pretty close: 205 voted for the Amash amendment, with 217 against. While the amendment lost, it was pretty damn close, meaning that a very large percentage of Congress appears to be very concerned about NSA bulk collection of data. That bodes well for future reform to limit the NSA.

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Comments on “Amash Amendment Narrowly Rejected After Heated (And Partly Ridiculous) Debate”

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indolent (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Relavent floor proceedings:

6:21:43 P.M. H.R. 2397 POSTPONED PROCEEDINGS – At the conclusion of debate on the Amash amendment No. 100, the Chair put the question on adoption of the amendment and by voice vote, announced that the noes had prevailed. Mr. Amash demanded a recorded vote and the Chair postponed further proceedings on the question of adoption of the amendment until a time to be announced.

6:53:20 P.M. H.R. 2397 On agreeing to the Amash amendment; Failed by recorded vote: (Roll no. 412).

John Thacker (profile) says:

Leadership on both sides were against it. (Pelosi voted No, Obama WH was against it.) Close vote in this situation means that probably most of the House was against it, but leadership on both sides whipped heavily and convinced members to support with all sorts of promises. Establishment bills that are unpopular with regular people tend to pass that way, by narrow margins.

The Establishment won this one.

FM Hilton (profile) says:

So it was not approved, now what?

There goes the last meaningful attempt to stop the metadata collection.

It won’t happen again, believe me.

Congress will be bullied into approving everything automatically, by the President, the NSA and their lobbyists-not to mention the defense contractors who were hired by the NSA.

It will be in the form of very subtle blackmail and threats, coercion and back room deals…the usual ways.

Kiss the 4th amendment good bye. It was nice thinking you had privacy.

Nice time was had by all.

Zakida Paul (profile) says:

I have seen a lot of people try to put a positive spin on this. To them I say “don’t sprinkle sugar on this shite and call it candy”.

The fact is your government are sick. You have no respect for the liberties of your own citizens, never mind those of citizens of other countries. I never want to here any more moralising from American politicians about freedom and democracy because the truth is you have no fucking idea what those words mean.

Sick and twisted government and the real terrorists of this world. Keep on regressing, America; the rest of the world hates you.

Anonymous Coward says:

no further 9/11 attacks because ????? why ?

He also claimed that without spying on all Americans we might have another 9/11.

he’s right, fact is you have not had another 9/11, and you cannot prove that you did not have one because of extra security.

Some simple reasoning would show that people who would commit a 9/11 style attack are NOT making such attacks, and the reason why they are not is because of added security..

Are you going to try to argue that you have had no 9/11 style attacks just because “they didn’t feel like it” ??

Or do you think there is some other reason why ?

What is your reason why you have not received another 9/11 type attack ??

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: no further 9/11 attacks because ????? why ?

No, he’s not right. He’s blowing smoke and he has no evidence at all that these programs have made us any more secure or we’d be hearing about it by now (why hold it back?). We have seen no such evidence and every time something is ostensibly provided as being made more secure by this spying the claim falls to any amount of scrutiny.

You’re ‘simple reasoning’ is actually fallacious logic. The reason there hasn’t been another attack like 9/11 in the last 12 years is the same reason we didn’t have a 9/11 type attack in the 12 years before the 9/11 attacks: 9/11 type attacks are singularly rare events that simply don’t happen very often even if nothing is done at all

Absence of evidence is absence of evidence and absent any evidence that they work and are worth the money these programs shouldn’t be funded. The onus is on you and others that support these programs to show that they work, not on everyone else to prove they don’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Lucky you live in a democracy

You live in a democratic society, and when something is decided democratically the first thing you do is moan about it.

The majority of everyone disagrees with you.
You love your democracy except when it goes against your views..

YOU LOST, put as much icing on a piece of shit, it’s still a piece of shit.

So now that you have lost, and been voted down by your democracy, what are you going to do now ?? keep whinging ?

I guess that is all you have to do, it’s all you really ever had. It’s your democratic right after all, it’s also your democratic right to live by the rules of your democracy.

So just as it’s your right to argue against it, it’s your responsibility to abide by the same democratic rules and obligations of that democracy..

You had your vote, you had your rights voted on, you lost !!!! end of story..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Lucky you live in a democracy

Public opinion is overwhelmingly against these programs so no, ‘the majority of everyone’ doesn’t disagree. Even if they did that wouldn’t be a good enough excuse. You can’t strip fundamental rights from people just because ‘the majority of everyone’ wants to. That’s what the checks and balances are for. Exactly half of one branch of our government is based on representing the majority to begin with (and apparently even that half doesn’t do that right since there result here doesn’t mesh with the majority of the public anyway).

Anonymous Coward says:

Even if it was really close, since the Pompeo/Nugent amendment passed and the Amash amendment didn’t, doesn’t this still count as a loss?

it’s not a loss, it’s a WIN.

A win for your democratic system!!, In a democracy you cannot please all of the people all of the time (nor should you), but the system wins, the democracy wins, and the majority wins..

Sure is sucks to be on the minority losing side, but lots of things suck..

lots of people and Governments do things you don’t like, or don’t agree with, but the majority do agree with, that’s how a democratic system works..

if it was close (it was not that close), then how can you say there was significant bullying going on.. if it was a landslide win, or landslide loss you could make that claim.
But not when it is close or even close to close.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That makes no sense. If a vote is a landslide, why ever bother bullying?
If a vote is close, you have every reason to use whatever means you deem necessary to get your will. Trust me: Politicians have a good head-count of their peers before a vote and they have an idea about what concessions to make to “buy” a certain vote.

To think that a majority is static is naive.

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