amendment to defund the surveillance programs of the National Security Agency (NSA) was defeated late last month, US Rep. Justin Amash is not giving up his fight for transparency and the Fourth Amendment.
"It might not be exactly the same amendment. This was an amendment to an appropriations bill, so it had to be written in a very particular way." His amendment failed 205-217, a difference of 12 with an equal number not voting.
Not discouraged by his amendment's defeat, Amash said he thinks the votes might be there this time:
"I've certainly heard from a number of my colleagues, directly and through the media, that they feel differently about the amendment now that if they had a second chance, yeah, they might have voted yes on it."
Amash also indicated a difference might be made from the most recent revelations that originated from NSA leaker Edward Snowden: that an internal audit showed almost 3,000 violations regarding surveillance of Americans from April 2011 through March 2012. Asked by Crowley whether this meant there was indeed accountability, Amash disputed the assertion, saying that the safeguards on the program that were promised by administration officials were revealed to be untrue because of the leaks, not government oversight:
"The system's not working. Americans were told by the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee that there were zero privacy violations. We know that's not true. Americans were assured by the president and others that the FISA Court had significant oversight and we've heard from the chief judge of the FISA Court who says that's not true. And Americans have been told that their records have not been collected. They had no data collections by the director of national intelligence. We found out that wasn't true."
A week ago, Amash also alleged that key documents were withheld from incoming congressional members.
The war on privacy has seemingly taken on a life of its own since Snowden's revelations became public at the beginning of the summer. Amash nearly succeeded in defunding the surveillance programs, but encrypted e-mail companies have quit their businesses, and the partner of Snowden's media source, Glenn Greenwald, was detained for hours in the United Kingdom over the weekend. Perhaps partly in response, Greenwald has vowed to reveal even more of the secrets Snowden leaked to him. Regardless, the initial defeat of Amash's amendment has not signaled that the focus of the NSA surveillance programs is going away anytime soon. However, Amash has not yet indicated when he might introduce it again.