The House will vote tomorrow on an important amendment that would limit the NSA's ability to engage in secret, bulk surveillance. It will be the first such piece of legislation to be voted upon since Edward Snowden's revelations.
Surprisingly, its passage seems possible as bi-partisan support grows, which has prompted the Obama administration to officially register its opposition.
And what logic has the White House offered to explain its opposition in the face of mounting public opinion against the NSA's secret spying on Americans?
The irony of this statement is so bombastic that it's difficult to take it as anything other than intentional self-parody. Either that, or the Obama administration is attempting to simultaneously kill irony and Americans' right to privacy.
WH opposes Amash amendment on NSA. "This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process."— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) July 24, 2013
For it's the DOJ and NSA which have used a "blunt" approach in establishing a massive surveillance infrastructure behind closed doors, a process that, with its rubber-stamping FISA court is anything but "deliberative," anything but "open."
And the public continues to be anything but "informed."
The amendment to be voted upon tomorrow, authored by Republican congressman Justin Amash and supported by his Democratic colleague, John Conyers, would aim to end the NSA's authority to engage in the vacuuming of digital data under the Patriot Act.
The amendment would prevent the NSA, the FBI and other agencies from relying on Section 215 of the Patriot Act "to collect records, including telephone call records, that pertain to persons who are not subject to an investigation under Section 215."That the Obama administration would be opposed to the amendment, given the administration's war on whistleblowers and investment in the state's growing surveillance powers, is not surprising.
What is surprising? That it appears to be at war with irony as well.
Here's the full White House statement in opposition to the defunding amendment, care of Glenn Greenwald:In light of the recent unauthorized disclosures, the President has said that he welcomes a debate about how best to simultaneously safeguard both our national security and the privacy of our citizens. The Administration has taken various proactive steps to advance this debate including the President’s meeting with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, his public statements on the disclosed programs, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s release of its own public statements, ODNI General Counsel Bob Litt’s speech at Brookings, and ODNI’s decision to declassify and disclose publicly that the Administration filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. We look forward to continuing to discuss these critical issues with the American people and the Congress.
However, we oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism tools. This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process. We urge the House to reject the Amash Amendment, and instead move forward with an approach that appropriately takes into account the need for a reasoned review of what tools can best secure the nation.