December 11, 2104
(TheAntiMedia) Yesterday, the House passed H.R. 4681. The bill, which was also passed by the Senate on Tuesday, authorizes spying on all Americans without due process. It grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American.
The commentary below was published by U.S. Representative Justin Amash (yes, a member of Congress himself) on his official Facebook page late Wednesday night:
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When I learned that the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2015 was being rushed to the floor for a vote—with little debate and only a voice vote expected (i.e., simply declared “passed” with almost nobody in the room)—I asked my legislative staff to quickly review the bill for unusual language. What they discovered is one of the most egregious sections of law I’ve encountered during my time as a representative: It grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American.
On Wednesday afternoon, I went to the House floor to demand a roll call vote on the bill so that everyone’s vote would have to be recorded. I also sent the letter below to every representative.
With more time to spread the word, we would have stopped this bill, which passed 325-100. Thanks to the 99 other representatives—44 Republicans and 55 Democrats—who voted to protect our rights and uphold the Constitution. And thanks to my incredibly talented staff.
Amash also attached a copy of the letter he sent to his colleagues in Congress, which warned them of the dangers of passing the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2015 [H.R. 4681]:
Block New Spying on U.S. Citizens: Vote “NO” on H.R. 4681
The intelligence reauthorization bill, which the House will vote on today, contains a troubling new provision that for the first time statutorily authorizes spying on U.S. citizens without legal process.
Last night, the Senate passed an amended version of the intelligence reauthorization bill with a new Sec. 309—one the House never has considered. Sec. 309 authorizes “the acquisition, retention, and dissemination” of nonpublic communications, including those to and from U.S. persons. The section contemplates that those private communications of Americans, obtained without a court order, may be transferred to domestic law enforcement for criminal investigations.
To be clear, Sec. 309 provides the first statutory authority for the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of U.S. persons’ private communications obtained without legal process such as a court order or a subpoena. The administration currently may conduct such surveillance under a claim of executive authority, such as E.O. 12333. However, Congress never has approved of using executive authority in that way to capture and use Americans’ private telephone records, electronic communications, or cloud data.
Supporters of Sec. 309 claim that the provision actually reins in the executive branch’s power to retain Americans’ private communications. It is true that Sec. 309 includes exceedingly weak limits on the executive’s retention of Americans’ communications. With many exceptions, the provision requires the executive to dispose of Americans’ communications within five years of acquiring them—although, as HPSCI admits, the executive branch already follows procedures along these lines.
In exchange for the data retention requirements that the executive already follows, Sec. 309 provides a novel statutory basis for the executive branch’s capture and use of Americans’ private communications. The Senate inserted the provision into the intelligence reauthorization bill late last night. That is no way for Congress to address the sensitive, private information of our constituents—especially when we are asked to expand our government’s surveillance powers.
I urge you to join me in voting “no” on H.R. 4681, the intelligence reauthorization bill, when it comes before the House today.
Member of Congress
U.S. Representatives Who Voted NO:
Just last week Justin Amash was one of only 10 members of Congress to vote No on a war propaganda bill Ron Paul says ‘recklessly declares war on Russia‘ and essentially authorizes Obama to supply lethal weapons to the Ukrainian Government.
Who is this Justin Amash, you ask?
Here are 5 reasons why Justin Amash is leading the resistance provided by the founder of People Against the NDAA, Dan Johnson:
1. He regularly speaks out about the NDAA
Within days of the Senate vote on the 2012 NDAA, Amash published “The Truth about the New Detainee Policy” in Red State, one of America’s most influential Republican blogs, slamming the Senate’s decision to allow the indefinite military detention of citizens without trial. He gathered a coalition to fight the sections, called out their dangers in town halls, fact-checked the House Armed Service Committee’s “fact sheet” on the detention provisions, and he continues to support amendments to block the NDAA in the House.
2. He introduced the Smith-Amash amendment the year after the 2012 NDAA passed
Talk is cheap, particularly in politics. Yet Rep. Amash did more than just talk. Together with Adam Smith (D-WA), Amash introduced the Smith-Amash amendment to repeal the detention provisions in the 2012 NDAA. Though it failed in the House, Amash was able to successfully show that Republicans were complete hypocrites when they talk about Constitutional rights. The amendment failed 237-182.
3. He heralded the Smith-Gibson Amendment in 2013, and Smith-Broun in 2014
Not to be deterred by the failure of his last amendment, Amash supported the identical Smith-Gibson Amendment the next year, once again to repeal the detention provisions hidden in the 2012 NDAA. This time, Amash and Smith were able to gather an even larger coalition of Representatives, bringing the vote to a much closer loss of only 200-226. He voted “yea” once again on the Smith-Broun amendment in 2014, bringing the total times he supported an amendment to repeal the detention provisions to three.
4. He even goes outside of Congress
This is one thing that makes Amash stand out above just about anyone in Congress. When a bill was introduced in the Washington state legislature with intent to prohibit the 2012 NDAA’s detention provisions, Rep. Amash sent a detailed letter of his support for a bill that would never affect him and was nowhere near his district.
5. He won’t allow false fixes to slant his vote
One of the most dangerous threats to true liberty is false security. How better to disable a resistance movement, than, while changing nothing, convincing them they have won?
Amash has so far had none of that. He correctly spoke out against the Feinstein-Lee Amendment in 2012, a false fix heralded by many as the end of NDAA indefinite detention, even when powerful Senators like Rand Paul and Mike Lee supported it.
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