Why I voted Against the Amash Amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act

Jul 25, 2013 Issues: Defense and National Security

Why I voted Against the Amash Amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act

As a member of House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I have firsthand knowledge of critical national security programs and am actively involved in the oversight and scrutiny of our intelligence collection against foreign terrorists. One of the Committee's top priorities is ensuring that our national security interests never trample the Constitutional rights of American citizens. The Committee is diligent in this matter. The Amash amendment would have eliminated Section 215 of the Patriot Act which we know has thwarted 54 terrorist plots against the US (and counting). I believe these programs are critical to maintaining our national security and keeping Americans safe. The Amash Amendment was a blunt instrument that would severely damage our intelligence collection capabilities and put Americans at risk. As the bill moves to conference with the Senate, we will work to foster stronger public confidence in the program’s privacy protections to ensure that we retain this important national security tool.

Please take a look at the following news articles on how the Amash amendment harms national security.

What They're Saying About the Amash Amendment

Republicans for Snowden

But under Mr. Amash's amendment, the NSA could only gather metadata if it has already found the needle.

This would greatly complicate the job of preventing future terrorist attacks, because metadata can link a known suspect to a terrorist or terror cell that U.S. officials weren't aware of. The sifting of metadata helped the FBI locate and stop the New York subway bomber.

Mr. Amash has no experience on the Armed Services, Intelligence or Foreign Affairs committees, but he nonetheless claims to know that his amendment wouldn't hurt U.S. security.

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The Amash Amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Bill

As a matter of policy, the amendment is a blunt instrument that summarily terminates a program that the federal government, under two very different Administrations, has thought vital. At a minimum, it appears that the Amash amendment would increase the risks of terrorist attacks by limiting the scope of court-ordered foreign intelligence collection and thereby depriving the U.S. of valuable intelligence it currently collects.

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Vital NSA Program Survives House Vote

Opponents of the NSA’s data collection efforts are vowing that the authority for the program will be allowed to expire in 2015. If this is indeed what happens, it will make the job of al-Qaeda and other extremist groups seeking to attack the U.S. appreciably easier.

Privacy concerns have been raised, understandably, about the NSA maintaining a log of all phone calls even if it doesn’t have access to the contents of those conversations without a court order. But there is not a single documented instance of that authority being misused and a number of public examples of how those efforts have thwarted terrorist plots.

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