News / USA

    US House Rejects Attempt to Halt NSA Surveillance Program

    A supporter holds a picture of Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who leaked top secret information about U.S. surveillance programs, outside the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong Thursday, June 13, 2013.
    A supporter holds a picture of Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who leaked top secret information about U.S. surveillance programs, outside the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong Thursday, June 13, 2013.
    Cindy Saine
    The U.S. House of Representatives has narrowly defeated an amendment that would have ended a National Security Agency surveillance program that collects hundreds of millions of Americans' phone records. 

    The vote turned into a clash between President Barack Obama and Democratic and Republican national security leaders in Congress on one side, who say the program is vital to fighting terrorism, and a coalition of libertarian Republican and liberal Democratic lawmakers on the other side, who say it violates basic civil liberties.

    Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., shown on his way to vote on amendment to end NSA program, July 24, 2013.Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., shown on his way to vote on amendment to end NSA program, July 24, 2013.
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    Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., shown on his way to vote on amendment to end NSA program, July 24, 2013.
    Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., shown on his way to vote on amendment to end NSA program, July 24, 2013.
    Republican Representative Justin Amash of Michigan was the chief sponsor of the amendment that would have limited the NSA’s ability to collect phone records and other metadata under the Patriot Act to cases where the agency has first identified an individual who is the target of an investigation.   Amash challenged his fellow lawmakers.

    “We are here to answer one question for the people we represent:  do we oppose the suspicion-less collection of every American’s phone records?”

    The amendment was one of 100 attached to a $598 billion defense spending bill for 2014, and one that provoked some of the most passionate debate on the floor of the House on striking the right balance between national security and privacy concerns.

    The vote was 205 in favor of the amendment and 217 against.

    Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers strongly defended the NSA phone records program, saying that to kill it would be to take the United States back to the time before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks when the intelligence community lacked vital data.  He said the NSA programs have helped foil attacks 54 times.

    “Fifty-four times this and the other program stopped and thwarted terrorist attacks both here and in Europe, saving real lives," Rogers said. "This is not a game.”

    White House press secretary Jay Carney had issued a statement saying President Obama opposes the effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of the intelligence community’s counterterrorism tools. Carney said the president is still open to addressing privacy concerns awakened by leaks of former contractor Edward Snowden last month, but that this was not the right approach. The Snowden leaks have caused concern in the U.S. and outrage abroad about the extent of the NSA’s surveillance of U.S. citizens and of phone and email records of citizens abroad.

    Even if the amendment had passed in the House, it would likely have failed in the Senate, and would have been vetoed by Obama.  But some lawmakers say the close vote and emotional debate is an indication that Congress is likely to investigate the scope and magnitude of NSA surveillance in the months to come.

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    by: Anonymous
    July 28, 2013 8:22 AM
    Thank you so much Bradley Edward Manning and Edward Joseph Snowden for bringing to the forefront the subjects of personal freedom, individual rights to privacy and individual liberties. I am one who also believes we live in a nation under a constitution that allows people to express their opinions and feelings without the fear of retribution or of becoming a political prisoner. My concern is whether or not a citywide video surveillance camera system exits in the Salt Lake Valley and possibly in the entire state of Utah - the worldwide Headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS/Mormons). The abundance of camera like hardware mounted on the traffic light posts throughout the valley should be of concern to anyone who resides in or visits the predominately Mormon state. The hardware is mounted at the intersections of some major (900 East 5800 South) and not so major intersections (700 East 6600-7200 South). A good sampling of this hardware can be found throughout the valley but especially in the Murray, Fort Union/Midvale, Sandy, and Cottonwood Heights areas (4500 South to 12300 South and State Street, 900 East, 1300 East, etc.). The setup of this hardware – if it is a camera surveillance system could easily track the whereabouts of a person traveling throughout the valley on a daily basis. The origins of such a system may have begun shortly after 911 when KSL News Anchor (Nadine Wimmer?) announced the KSL Traffic Center retired its Chopper 5 traffic watch helicopter for a ground traffic monitoring camera system. KSL TV/Radio located in Salt Lake City, Utah is owned by Bonneville International, a worldwide LDS/Mormon church communications company. The American public deserves to receive some explanation from the KSL Traffic Center, the Utah Department of Transportation, and the leaders of the LDS church as to the existence, operation, extent, and sophistication of the ground monitoring system and if the system incorporates facial recognition of drivers, GPS tracking of cars, license plate/object recognition, why such a system exits, and why the cameras of a private entity are mounted on public property. The LDS/Mormon church headquarters who has been keeping personal computer records of its millions of church members since as early as the 60-70s is no newcomer to the science of high technology. I welcome anyone who is familiar with the technologies mentioned in this post to visit the Salt Lake Valley and to see for yourself if the Mormon Brotherhood is out of control and is watching you.

    by: JimHarwood1956 from: Norman, Oklahoma
    July 25, 2013 5:05 PM
    Edward Snowden didn't reveal anything new. He only reminded us it is still being done. How quickly we forget! History repeats itself! CBS News 60 Minutes Steve Kroft broke the story on Sunday 27 February 2000 when he interviewed former NSA spy Mike Frost - who revealed significantly more than Edward Snowden has! Then The History Channel did a special on it! What a short attention span we Americans have and quickly forget issues like that which do not appear to have direct impact on our day-to-day living of normal lives, until it is too late to stop it.

    Find the CBS News article about it by searching for "CBS News Ex-Snoop Confirms Echelon Network" [with quote marks].

    Watch The History Channel's 5 short videos about it by searching YouTube for "Echelon Spy Satelites Part 1" [with quote marks, and yes satellites is spelled wrong there as satelites] There are 5 parts - just replace the number to find the next one.

    PRISM is the new version of Echelon.

    Now look up "Utah Data Center" of NSA at Wikipedia. The multi-billion-dollars complex will go online by end of August, if not sooner, including a computer with a level of "artificial intelligence" never seen before. Imagine "Skynet" of the Terminator movies on steroids. Horror is what you will feel when you see it. Terror is what you will feel when you realize it has seen you.

    Privacy is security. When they take away our privacy, they take away our security. It is not necessary to sacrifice one to have or improve the other. It's just an excuse to do so.

    by: everydayJohn from: Torrance, CA
    July 25, 2013 1:07 AM
    When will the gutless 217 Members of the House of Rep that voted against this admendment be named so that the Public can vote against any of their re-election to public office. Please name these gutless 217 memberss!
    In Response

    by: Kennon from: Califorinia
    July 25, 2013 10:10 AM
    Here you go: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2013/roll412.xml
    In Response

    by: Tim from: New Hampshire
    July 25, 2013 10:02 AM
    I came across this article while trying to find out whether my rep. voted for or against the loss of America's freedom. Anyone know where I can find out?
    In Response

    by: tisme from: Michigan
    July 25, 2013 8:57 AM
    I am trying to find the 217 that want us to be ruled by Big Brother.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    July 25, 2013 8:36 AM
    Stand up America!! What the **** are we doing just standing by the wayside?? We are giving up our right to privacy without a fight!?

    by: GH1618 from: USA
    July 25, 2013 12:08 AM
    Good sense prevailed.
    In Response

    by: Winslow Wilson
    July 29, 2013 12:12 AM
    You have no idea of what you are talking about. This is the worst thing that could have happened at this time. I'm asking people to get the list of the 217 Representatives and contact people in their state to organize a way to vote them out of office next year.

    It can be done. Tell them to get 5 good friends who will commit to that vote and ask each of those 5 if they will commit to contacting 5 of their good friends who will do the same and so on and so on. If this is done 10 times down the line, that's nearly 50 million voters. One more time is the clincher and
    these fools would go down in flames at the polls.

    This would be a most the most powerful message the people could send. The Senators who are for this NSA insanity should be taken down next. It could all go away quickly.

    If any of the Representatives were not from your state, Commit to sending out 5 letters anyway. But get the list and include it in your letter so everyone will know.

    by: Anonymous
    July 24, 2013 10:36 PM
    Democracy at work....

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