Market Watch: Attempt to curb NSA surveillance defeated in House

House lawmakers on Wednesday defeated an attempt to drastically curb a national-security program that collects the phone records of millions of Americans, after a tense debate on the balance between privacy rights and
government efforts to find terrorists.

The measure was narrowly defeated, 205-217, after last-minute lobbying by the Obama administration and House members on the intelligence panel, who said the program was crucial to national security.

House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio), who doesn’t often cast a ballot, voted against the amendment, reflecting nervousness among opponents about whether they would be able to defeat the bill.

The measure, from Rep. Justin Amash (R., Mich.), would have blocked funding for the National Security Agency to collect phone records unless they pertained to a particular person under investigation. The program came to public attention due to disclosures by Edward Snowden, the former NSA employee who recently released details of two classified programs.


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National Journal: Michigan’s Amash Quietly Tries to Build a National Brand

The libertarian lawmaker wants to be a known name, whether he runs for the Senate or not.


The young conservative known to Republican colleagues as the most reliable “no” vote in Congress is trying to build his political brand—and collect the campaign cash that comes with it.

Maybe it’s for a Senate run. (Justin Amash still won’t say.) But what’s certain is that the Michigan Republican wants to be seen as the go-to libertarian in the House—a position he’s been trying to fill since Ron Paul left Congress.

“Regardless of what my decision is [on the Senate race], I think it’s important to get out there, spend some time throughout the state and try to spread the message that I’ve been spreading here and in my district—the message of limited government, economic freedom, and individual liberty,” Amash said.

Amash, in his second term, has already earned a reputation as one of the libertarian stalwarts in Washington. After the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs were revealed, Amash was sought out by reporters and lawmakers alike. When he introduced a bill with Democratic Rep. John Conyers to limit the NSA’s targeting of phone records, dozens of members, in both parties, asked to become cosponsors. And last week, as the House considered an appropriations bill for the Defense Department, Amash pushed an amendment to defund the NSA’s surveillance.

But those limited accomplishments don’t easily penetrate the donor class beyond the Beltway and his own district. So now, Amash is focused on bolstering and broadening his fan base.

Last week, the lawmaker attended a series of fundraisers in the vast expanse known as Metro Detroit—on the opposite side of the state from his district. He met with well-heeled Republican donors in Birmingham, chatted with the Lebanese Chamber of Commerce in Southfield, and held private gatherings with a smattering of other business groups, according to a source close to Amash.

And last month, he quietly launched a national mail campaign, targeting wealthy libertarian-leaning donors in places such as Florida and California, the source confirmed.

Amash is seeing a return on the investment already. According to his newly filed report to the Federal Election Commission, he raised roughly $220,000 in the second quarter of 2013—significantly more than the $125,000 he raised in the first quarter and easily eclipsing his haul from the second quarter of last year.

Still, these improved second-quarter numbers are not particularly strong for any member of Congress, much less someone considering a Senate campaign. As a point of comparison, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who also weighed a Senate bid, raised more than $420,000 during the same period. And their Michigan colleague, Rep. Gary Peters, who entered the Senate race in June as the Democratic favorite, raised more than $1 million.


Click below for the full article. Justin Amash, Jared Polis Introduce Bill Requiring a Court Order for Telephone Records

While the White House very lamely attempted to do damage control on the Department of Justice’s grotesque Associated Press surveillance dragnet by unconvincingly re-animating a push for a federal shield law exempting the professional press from most non-national-security-related federal fishing expeditions, some actual civil libertarians in Washington have introduced a bill that would increase protections for all Americans against unchecked federal snooping.

Via InstaPundit, here’s your press release:

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), joined by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), today introduced legislation to prevent federal agencies from seizing Americans’ telephone records without a court order.

H.R. 2014, the Telephone Records Protection Act, requires court approval when the government demands telephone records from service providers. Current law allows the government to subpoena such records unilaterally, without any judicial review. The Department of Justice likely used its administrative subpoena authority to seize the Associated Press’s telephone records in its recent investigation of a CIA leak.

“The Justice Department’s seizure of the AP’s phone records—likely without the sign-off of a single judge—raises serious First and Fourth Amendment concerns. Regardless of whether DOJ violates the legitimate privacy expectations of reporters or ordinary Americans, we deserve to know that the federal government can’t seize our records without judicial review,” said Amash.


The Liberty Report Take: It is refreshing these days to find elected officials committed to upholding the constitution, civil liberties, and actually RESTRAINING the power of the government.