“To think that the Congress has substantial oversight of this program is simply incorrect.”
— Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, as she argued Wednesday in support of an amendment to a defense bill that would have restricted the National Security Agency’s now-not-so-secret collection of Americans’ phone and email records. The amendment, sponsored by Michigan Republican Justin Amash, brought together an unlikely alliance of libertarians and liberals but was was narrowly voted down, 217-205 . The vote was the first opportunity the House has had to try to rein in the NSA after the bombshell revelations about the massive domestic surveillance program that were exposed last month by Edward Snowden. The White House strongly supported the NSA eavesdropping, as did House leaders such as Republican John Boehner and Democrat Nancy Pelosi. “Denying the NSA such access to data will leave the nation at risk,” said an open letter supporting the NSA’s program. Colorado Republican Mark Udall was among those who thought the data-snooping program went to far: “National security is of paramount importance, yet the NSA’s dragnet collection of Americans’ phone records violates innocent Americans’ privacy rights and should not continue as its exists today,” he said.
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky