Amash-Conyers Amendment: Opportunity for Transparency

July 24, 2013


Today, MPAC asked its constituents and all Americans to support the Amash-Conyers Amendment #100 to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act.

Debates on privacy issues and national security have increased due to the recent revelations about NSA mass surveillance programs. In an attempt to deal with the surveillance program in the House, Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and John Conyers, Jr., (D-MI) have added an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act that would effectively defund the program which has allowed the NSA to conduct surveillance on innocent Americans with almost no oversight.

The amendment seeks to end the NSA’s blanket surveillance on American citizens’ telephone records unless there is an active investigation open. The amendment ends the blanket collection by:

  1. No longer authorizing the government to hold a pool of metadata on every phone call of every American;
  2. Permitting the government to continue to acquire business records and other “tangible things” that are actually related to an authorized counterterrorism investigation, and;
  3. Imposing more robust judicial oversight on NSA’s surveillance in order to make sure the NSA does not violate Americans’ civil liberties.

President Barack Obama’s Press Secretary Jay Carney responded to the amendment by opposing “the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our intelligence community’s counterterrorism tools.”

While the White House sees the amendment as a blunt approach to the issue and welcomes an “informed, deliberative and open process,” our nation has not yet been afforded the opportunity to debate the intelligence tool.

“Our national security and privacy concerns are very complicated and nuanced,” said Hoda Elshishtawy, MPAC’s Legislative and Policy Analyst. “When dealing with these concerns, Americans need to feel comfortable that an intelligence program like this has a transparent oversight process so that any misuse and abuse is avoided.”

Support for open dialogue on surveillance comes from people on both sides of the aisle. Lee Hamilton, Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University recently wrote, “The Obama administration has said it welcomes a debate on these issues. But it has not enabled that debate: the discussion has been thrust upon the administration because of the recent leaks.”

Action Alert:

The amendment will most likely go up for a vote this week.

Call your member of Congress today and urge them to vote in favor of the amendment.

To find your member of Congress, call the Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to speak to your representative. Or, find your elected official by clicking here.

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