National Security Brief: White House Calls On Congress To ‘Reject’ Measure Reining In NSA Spying

The Hill reports that the House is expected to vote on an amendment to a Defense Appropriations bill that is aimed at limiting the National Security Agency’s powers to collect information on Americans’ telephone and internet traffic.

One measure — put forward by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) — will prevent the NSA from using the PATRIOT Act to collect records of people who are not under investigation and another says the Agency cannot target U.S. citizens.

NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander lobbied the House yesterday in an effort to dial back congressional opposition to NSA spying and the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee oppose the measures, as does the White House.

“[W]e oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism tools,” a statement from White House press secretary Jay Carney says. “This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process. We urge the House to reject the Amash Amendment, and instead move forward with an approach that appropriately takes into account the need for a reasoned review of what tools can best secure the nation.”


Amash told the New York Times that Alexander’s lobbying didn’t change any minds and that his measure will most likely pass. “I think the American people are overwhelmingly in support of reining in the blanket surveillance of the NSA,” he said.

In other news:

  • USA Today reports: A key aspect of the military’s effort to protect troops from roadside bombs has been sabotaged from within, according to a report by Pentagon’s special inspector general for Afghanistan.
  • The Washington Post reports: Two senators who wield considerable influence over U.S. foreign aid threatened Tuesday to withhold funding for Afghanistan if the government in Kabul doesn’t cease attempting to collect customs fines for U.S. military cargo being shipped out of the country as part of the troop drawdown.
  • The Hill reports: Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) suggested Tuesday that Democrats will back a House measure to block funding for any military action in Syria that violates the War Powers Resolution.