In a nearly unprecedented move, Democrat after Democrat took to the house floor today to criticize the Obama Administrations wholesale collection of electronic information from US Citizens. The debate came after Rep. Justin Amash offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act-in short the Defense Budget- which would prohibit ANY spending on activities that obtained electronic records of US Citizens unless that information was “clearly relevant to a terrorist target.”
111 House Democrats voted for the Amash Amendment. That is an amazing number considering the White House pushed very strongly for rejection of the Amendment. Representative Mike Rogers-R MI argued that wholesale electronic monitoring had stopped 54 terrorist attacks in the US and abroad.
The war of words started prior to the hearings with the White House and members of congress issuing dueling press releases. Social media and the Electronic Frontier Foundation urged its members to call and write their representatives urging them to support the Amash Amendment banning federal funding for wholesale electronic monitoring.
The gist of the battle is over whether the government can obtain all records and then review them if there is an investigation or whether the government must have an ongoing investigation in order to get the records. Several lawmakers argued that current law is not being followed so the defunding was imperative.