NSA Chief Lobbies House Against Vote on Surveillance Program

Tuesday, 23 Jul 2013 02:44 PM

By Melanie Batley

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The National Security Agency called for a "top secret" meeting with House members on Tuesday to lobby against an amendment that would challenge the agency's authority to collect huge amounts of communications data for counterterrorism activities, like it did under the programs revealed by Edward Snowden.

According to the Huffington Post, the House Intelligence Committee issued invitations to all members to attend a question and answer briefing session with NSA head Gen. Keith Alexander. The invitation said that everything discussed at the meeting would be "top secret" and "strictly Members-Only."

The amendment was authored by Rep. Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican, and co-sponsored by Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat and former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

The amendment is designed to end the "authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act and bars the NSA and other agencies from using 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."

The measure is expected to be voted on sometime this week as an amendment to the defense appropriations bill. If passed, it could challenge the authority of the secret court that gave legitimacy to the program under the Patriot Act, and reopen the debate among lawmakers about whether they agree with the scope of the NSA's surveillance programs.

"This is the real deal: It's our first chance to roll back the NSA's spying regime, and we don't know when we'll have another one like it," David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, told the Huffington Post.

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