How The House Leadership Tried To Misrepresent Amendment That Defunded NSA Backdoor Searches

from the and-yet-it-still-passed-overwhelmingly dept

We already wrote about how Reps. Goodlatte and Ruppersberger misrepresented the milestone amendment put forth by Reps. Massie, Lofgren and Sensenbrenner to defund the NSA's backdoor searches and mandates to put (different kinds of) backdoors in technology. However, we'd heard that the House leadership was so desperate to block the amendment that they put a totally misleading description on it -- and it's true:
If you can't see that, it says:
Prohibits funds from being used to fully exploit lawfully collected foreign intelligence information collected under Sec. 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
This is, of course, nearly identical to the language that Goodlatte himself used on the floor to urge his colleagues to vote against it. And, of course, as it was when Goodlatte said it, it's tremendously misleading here. It presumes that the information is "lawfully" collected, and also leaves out the rather key point that the amendment was merely blocking the ability to search the communications of Americans collected in this manner without a warrant. In other words, it not only totally misrepresented the amendment, but it purposely painted it in a ridiculous light, pretending that it was about blocking the NSA from doing something perfectly legal.

Given just how laughably misleading the House's own description of the amendment is, it's that much more incredible that the House overwhelmingly voted for the amendment, 293 to 123. In the end, it's a small miracle that it still passed, and by such a large margin -- but it also shows that many more in the House are realizing just how misleading leadership and "NSA-friendly" Representatives are being about these programs.

Filed Under: backdoor search, bob goodlatte, defense appropriations, house leadership, james sensenbrenner, nsa, section 702, surveillance, thomas massie, zoe lofgren


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  1. icon
    The Wanderer (profile), 1 Jul 2014 @ 6:31am

    Re: Amazing.

    When a bill is read out on the floor of the House or the Senate, it is generally read only by its allegedly-descriptive title, and that title generally ends with the catchall "and for other purposes".

    As a way to counter this, I've thought about the possible ramifications of having a requirement that before either house of Congress can hold a vote on a bill or amendment, the full text of that bill (as amended) must be read out on the floor of the relevant house of Congress.

    If any bill is voted on without having been so read, the requirement would hold that the vote is invalid.

    If any amendment is submitted, voted on, and accepted, then the requirement would hold that the bill is once again considered to not have been read out in full, since its as-amended text has been modified from the version which was already read out.

    (Taking things further, I've also considered requiring that in order to be eligible to vote on a bill, a member of Congress must actually have been present on the floor during such a full-text reading. But I think that might be going a bit overboard.)

    In addition to its obviously intended effects of making it harder to claim that a bill does one thing when it actually does another, this would have one major "side-"effect: vastly increasing the time required to pass a given bill, since you can no longer simply read out the title but must read the full text of the bill, possibly multiple times. Some people might consider that an advantage, and others might consider it a drawback, but it would certainly have to be taken into account either way.

    It's possible that this might end up causing more trouble than it solves. But I think it's an interesting idea, nonetheless...

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