Rep. Justin Amash Pushing To Strip The NSA's Funding With An Amendment To The Defense Appropriations Bill

from the no-money-no-problems dept

Have you ever wondered what it might take to shut the NSA down? It's not like you can vote the agency out of office, and a great many of those in office are either defending its practices or can't be bothered to find out why the recent leaks are such a big deal.

Rep. Justin Amash has an idea -- punch the NSA straight in the wallet.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) is mounting a push this week to defund the surveillance programs at the National Security Agency.

Amash said Monday that the defense appropriations bill, which could come to the House floor this week, was a chance to stop the NSA’s “unconstitutional spying on Americans.”

“Most important bill this week: DoD Approps. We can defund #NSA's unconstitutional spying on Americans--if House leaders allow amendments, Amash tweeted Monday.
It's a rather unlikely plan. Institutions like this simply don't vanish just because their funding has been stripped. Plus, as noted above, the NSA still has many defenders, not the least of which is the President.

Amash's attempt at bankrupting the NSA (of money, not morals) will be entertaining to observe, if nothing else. Unfortunately, the House is stacking the deck against him, removing the open amendment process that's been in use since the Republicans took over defense appropriations in 2011.
House Republican leaders are considering limiting amendments to the defense bill out of concern for proposals that Amash and other lawmakers might bring forward.
Convenient, isn't it? If you don't like the way the game is going, change the rules. Why won't the House Republicans allow this appropriations bill to move through the system, gathering pork and pet legislation in a Katamari-esque fashion, like it has in the past? Well, it seems that opportunists like Amash might sully the pristine legislative process with excessive amendments, something the country simply can't afford in these times of tenuous safety.
“While this is not the traditional process for this bill, there are a number of sensitive and ongoing issues related to national security that are more appropriately handled through an orderly amendment process ensuring timely consideration of this important measure,” [Rules Committee Chairman Pete] Sessions wrote.
Amash is undeterred and has promised to continue streamlining the language of his NSA-defunding amendment in hopes of attaching it to the appropriations bill.
"At the end of the day, it's going to be a political decision by our leadership if they want to give it a floor vote," [Amash spokesperson Will] Adams said.
Let's hope they do. If nothing else, it will result in a few days of panic and shouting as the possibility of the NSA having to hold bake sales to fund data interception edges towards reality.

More seriously, though, Amash's attempted amendment doesn't really address the multiple issues surrounding the NSA's overreach. It does help keep attention focused on the agency, which is a good thing. But it's going to take something more than a defunding attempt or a class action suit to really curb the NSA's surveillance programs. Legislation is almost impossible to walk back once passed into law and the secrecy surrounding the laws (and the laws' interpretations) will make any attempt to do this an excruciating uphill battle against entrenched interests, both public and private. Hopefully, representatives like Amash will continue the battle to restore the rights of their constituents.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Jul 16th, 2013 @ 6:14am

    No worries, some secret court can overturn anything against the NSA with secret interpretations. And since the defense budget is classified nobody will ever know.

    I'm hoping the event horizon has not been left behind already...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 8:17am

      Re:

      Maybe Congress should also be pushing for defense budget transparency.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Davey, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 2:42pm

      Re:

      The NSA and the rest of the spooks have been beyond Congress's reach for decades. They live on secret slush funds that even Congress and the White House don't know about. The only chance of "reforming" NSA would be to abolish it entirely. Don't hold your breath.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 7:21am

    Love the enthusiasm, but it will take an Act of Congress (which is harder to come by than an Act of God these days...) to do anything like this.

    I just don't get how you're going to get approval for an Amendment like this with so many Congressman in favor of the NSA's illegal surveillance...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 7:35am

      Re:

      If we all stop working, we effectively shut down all funding for these morons.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 7:38am

      Re:

      Get someone in the NSA to publish as many details of probable sexual liaisons of congress critters that they can find.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Atheistic Coward, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 7:46am

      Re:

      "it will take an Act of Congress (which is harder to come by than an Act of God these days...) to do anything like this."

      And given that god doesn't exist, that's no mean feat.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 7:40am

    AC, cutting its budget won't work, they'll just rob Medicare or something to pay for it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    theDude, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 7:52am

    Remember 911

    If we dont maintain our totalitarian police state . . . AlQuida wins!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      That One Guy (profile), Jul 16th, 2013 @ 10:03am

      Re: Remember 911

      I know that was sarcasm, but it bears repeating: with the single attack on 9/11 so many years ago, and the massive overreaction on the part of the people and the government, terrorists everywhere, and in particular Al Qaeda, won a greater victory over the US they could have ever dreamed to.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 11:30am

        Re: Re: Remember 911

        It's odd how the Patriot Act was being shopped around the day after 9/11. Legislation that massive can't be written over night.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 10:31am

      Re: Remember 911

      You're right dude! That's why from the hours of 2 am to 6 am I stand outside naked bent over with my cheeks spread. This is so they know I have nothing to hide at all.

      Hell I even bleach my butthole just to show them how civilized I am.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 8:32am

    strange how a person that gave speeches etc on The Constitution and who is now President, can dismiss everything in favour of continuing to fund law enforcement agencies and therefore must be in favour himself of the spying on USA (and almost every other country's as well) citizens instead.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    ethorad (profile), Jul 16th, 2013 @ 8:36am

    I have a bad feeling about this ...

    I don't think cutting the NSA's funding will help matters.

    It only means they will have to turn to alternative sources of funding. They could try bake sales, but I don't think they have much in the way of cookie ingredients. What they do have is a huge amount of personal data on US citizens - which would be very valuable to any number of companies and ad networks out there.

    Think it was bad when the government had the data? It'll only get worse when everyone else gets a copy as well!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Jul 16th, 2013 @ 8:45am

    Funding squeeze? Not to darned likely!

    The NSA has so much black-bag funding, plus all the "private" front companies that do R&D for them, that they will just move money from some projects, out-source the data gathering and surveillance programs to one of these entities, and go on doing "business" as usual.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 8:46am

    I want a list of names...

    ... of everyone who gets behind this and everyone who tries to prevent it. The only way to end this short of a revolution is to get all the NSA surveillance backers out of office. This needs to be the main issue next year come election time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    FM Hilton, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 9:15am

    Nice try, have a cigar

    It's nice that someone in Congress is mad enough to do something about the NSA.

    Refreshing, actually.

    But as been noted, it will be a futile effort and gesture-because the DoD budget is a sacred cow, and nobody kills those.

    As for who supports the NSA? Try all of the defense lobbyists, the President, most of Congress-plus those employed by the NSA.

    Thousands of people. Only a few of whom are powerful enough to force change.

    It will take enormous and sustained effort, lots of court battles, wins and losses before this is over, if it is ever over.

    Nobody knows who will win, either.

    One good step though right now-fire Keith Alexander, immediately. He's the driving architect of this program and its' expansion. He's one of many, but one of the most important..plus Clapper, who should be not only fired but prosecuted for lying to Congress.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    shutslar (profile), Jul 16th, 2013 @ 9:34am

    Bankrupt the Organization sounds familiar

    Want to know how all this secret organization, with secret rules, unlimited access, no oversight, etc. works out? Sounds like the entire Nakita series on TV a few years back. Maybe we can watch the last couple episodes and see what is going to happen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 9:38am

    I'd go the other direction

    If I was Verizon or AT&T, I'd just start charging the NSA a couple hundred million per request. Give my company a big fat profit margin at the same time. I mean, this information is important, right? That means demand for it is increasing and supply hasn't changed. Therefore, price goes up. So sorry NSA.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Rich, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 10:01am

      Re: I'd go the other direction

      That's sweetly naive of you to think you can hand the government a bill when they come knocking.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 2:31pm

      Re: I'd go the other direction

      They are charging per request. $100 million was just appropriated for the latest batch of these requests.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    YetAnotherAnon, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 10:22am

    I doubt we can cut off the money, Google has proven that there is a lot of money to be made selling the data.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    The dude, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 10:24am

    "the NSA having to hold bake sales to fund data interception"
    A nice image, a bunch of brutal looking thugs with aprons and oven gloves cooking and selling pies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Votre (profile), Jul 16th, 2013 @ 11:00am

    It's fine to cut the budget, but...

    All well and good to cut the NSA's budget. But here's a thought question: Exactly how much is that budget currently?

    Don't know? Well that's perfectly understandable. Because the NSA budget is buried inside a classified programs allocation... which then gets buried inside a larger DoD budget bill...and then this bill gets voted on without our legislature ever being allowed to examine how some extremely large amounts of money will actually get allocated because...(wait for it)...IT'S SECRET!

    Yes, they vote on the NSA budget without ever knowing what that budget is or for what it will be used for. Small wonder the PRISM facility in Utah got built with so little fanfare or concern.

    You just have tp love that circular national security "logic." Protecting our nations freedom by the simple expedient of taking our nations freedoms away.

    Oh well. At least we can take comfort knowing it wasn't some "damn ferriners" that stole it from us.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 1:42pm

    Just for thinking 'out of the wallet', you get my vote, dear sir. My vote in spirit , sir, 'coz I don't live in Michigan.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 4:49pm

    You don't really think the government paid $400 for a hammer, do ya?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Lurker Keith, Jul 17th, 2013 @ 3:51am

    Saw this coming

    I've been wondering for a while now when someone in Congress would try this.

    It may not work, but it's a good first shot.



    Another amendment they want to avoid is one to separate out the NSA Budget to be looked at later, in detail.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    red_tape, Jul 17th, 2013 @ 5:48am

    use REd tape :)

    A second nice solution is to explicitly deny the NSA right to replace employees that quit. This iwll slowly mess up their organisaton :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Sparkle508, Jul 18th, 2013 @ 11:04pm

    repeal or defund the NSA

    Something has to be done......as soon as possible. The IRS should be defunded too.......corruption is rampade......... & my children are paying taxes for this money blowning in the wind....Stop the with holding tax.....&......put in a flat tax......

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Terry, Sep 28th, 2013 @ 8:09pm

    maybe for the best..??

    May it happen, a government shut down. The only way to stop the N S A. It seems to be the silver lining. The way to stop the government from controlling its own people. When they should be working to solve problems instead of looking in american citizens E-mail and phone records to find anything they can use against Americans. That is the reason the office holders don't vote against it { we got your records}.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This