The White House on Tuesday objected to a “blunt” proposal to rein in the National Security Agency’s secret mass surveillance operations.
In a statement released on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the Obama administration supported efforts to reform surveillance laws. A proposal by Michigan Reps. Justin Amash (R) and John Conyers (D), however, went too far.
“We oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism tools,” Carney said. “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.”
The bipartisan Amash-Conyers-Massie-Mulvaney-Polis Amendment to the annual defense spending bill would prohibit the use of funds pursuant to Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The proposal would effectively prohibit the NSA from collecting data that does not pertain to a person under investigation.
Earlier this year, NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the federal agency was indiscriminately amassing phone traffic data on innocent Americans. The surveillance program has collected data from nearly every American over the last seven years.
In a fact sheet released by Amash on Wednesday, the congressman said his amendment would only affect domestic surveillance operations. Though it would end mass surveillance, targeted surveillance of terrorist suspects would still continue.
“NSA can continue to collect telephone metadata without a warrant and without probable cause that a crime or other statutory violation has been committed. The amendment simply requires that there be a reasonable connection between the documents sought and the person under investigation,” the fact sheet states.
UPDATE: The amendment was defeated Wednesday evening by a 217-205 vote.