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  (Source: NJ Today)
A razor thin majority said the government should continue to carefully monitor 99 percent of Americans

Just over half of the U.S. House of Representatives approve of the federal government spending billions to police not only terrorists and criminals, but also snoop on the lives of the 98+ percent of Americans.  The razor thin majority argues that to be free of terror, Americans must be willing to give up their freedoms and rights -- including the right to privacy.

I. Libertarian Effort to Restore Privacy is Shot Down in Congress

A proposed amendment to the U.S. Defense Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2397), an annual measure to fund the defense and intelligence agencies, would have "turned off Big Brother" by scaling back spying by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), who tracks the movements of smartphone-using Americans on a daily basis.

Backed by an unlikely alliance of civil libertarians from both sides of the aisle, such as Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), both sides came together to try to pass the amendment.  The amendment (H.Amend 100, H.R. 2397) was authored by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.).

In the end it came up just 12 votes short of passing, with 422 votes cast.

Defense Appropriations vote
The amendment came up just 12 votes short of passing. [Image Source: NYT]

II. Republicans to Obama : We Have Your Back

Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R.-Minn.) was among the critics of the amendment.  In total, Republicans voted 94 yay and 134 nay on the bill, while Democrats had 111 yays and 83 nays.

The lack of Republican support for the amendment and the strong Democratic support was equally surprising, given that the decision to expand the Bush administration's programs of the domestic surveillance has been a key internal objective of President Barack Hussein Obama (D) and democrats in the Senate.  

NSA Unchained
[Image Source: ACLU]

In short, Republicans in the House appear to be mostly in support of President Obama and Senate Democrats on the issue, and in opposition of their libertarian colleagues.  Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) was a powerful proponent of federal spying spending within his party's ranks.  He characterizes people who oppose the spying, such as NSA leaker Edward Snowden as "traitors".

Obama spying
Republicans in the House have largely supported Obama's spying efforts. [Image Source: AP]

Meanwhile, Democrats in the House are boldly defying their party colleagues both in the Democratic Senate majority and in the White House (a handful of civil libertarian Democrats in the Senate, such as Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) do oppose ubiquitous spending on spying on Americans).

House Republicans have also been crucial supporters of the President's program of warrantless killings of Americans who in deems "terrorists".  They have fought efforts to ban the ubiquitous use of armed drones on U.S. soil, arguing that the drones might one day be necessary to starting hunting down and killing off terrorists on U.S. soil.

Rep. Peter King (R- N.Y.) comments:

I’m not concerned [with the casualty rate]. My belief is that when you are in a war — and we are in a war — the idea is to kill as many of the enemy as you can [even if the enemy is your own people].
There’s evil people in the world. Drones aren’t evil, people are evil. We are a force of good and we are using those drones to carry out the policy of righteousness and goodness.

The New York Republican recently called for efforts to stomp out freedom of the press, urging federal prosecutors to charge journalists who leaked details of and criticized the NSA spying program with Espionage charges.  Despite the fact that the drone strikes killed few members of al-Qaeda's leadership, he says that it's worth preserving the option to kill Americans without having to worry about due process.

Predator missile
Republicans have fought to preserve the Obama administration's privilege to kill Americans it deems "terrorist" with warrantless drone missile strikes. [Image Source: Drone Wars UK]

Rep. King and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.) were among the key Republicans in shooting down an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4310) by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) which would have forced U.S. drone operators to know the identity of a target before killing someone.

III. President Chastises House Democrats for Trying to Limit His Spying on Americans

President Obama's press secretary, Jay Carney, praised House Republicans' decision to support the ongoing spying on Americans.  In a previous statement Mr. Carney (on the President's behalf) had warned:

We oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism tools.  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.

President Obama
President Obama has had no tolerance for his party colleagues' efforts to stop him from spying. [Image Source: AP]
A separate Amendment -- Rep. Mike Pompeo's (R-Kans.) amendment #99 -- did pass.  It states:

None of funds made available by this Act may be used by the National Security Agency to—(1) conduct an acquisition pursuant to section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 for the purpose of targeting a United States person; or (2) acquire, monitor, or store the contents (as such term is defined in section 2510 of title 18, United States Code) of any electronic communication of a United States person from a provider of electronic communication services to the public pursuant to section 501 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

However, many have pointed out that the bill in question already forbids content (e.g. voice conversation) collection on non-suspects.  Hence, the amendment is essentially a false flag that does nothing.  It does not limit the collection (and spending on collection) of metadata, including location tracking records, as Rep. Amash's amendment would have.

Rep. Amash (R) vowed not to let the defeat stop his efforts to restore law abiding Americans' right to privacy.  He and Rep. Conyers have introduced a new bill called the LIBERT-E Act (H.R. 2399), which would offer similar scalebacks to his H.R. 2397 amendment.  That Bill is currently in the committee stage.

Justin Amash
House Republican Justin Amash isn't afraid to defy his colleagues and yet again try to fight for American's right to privacy. [Image Source: Getty Images]

Ultimately, the House Republicans and President Obama's unity on the importance of erasing the rights to privacy is a sign that the terrorists have achieved their goal of impacting the lives of Americans, forcing them to lose privacy they once had and to pay for it to boot.

Sources: NYT: H.R. 2397 Amendment 101 Vote, Rep. John Amash (R), White House

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RE: Love the Logic
By Flunk on 7/25/2013 5:00:12 PM , Rating: 3
American politics aren't about being liberal or conservative anymore. It's devolved to the point where there are just two enormous hulking parties vying for power that will say and do anything to retain it. Both parties act as if they're conservative, big government parties. Obama is showing his true colors in the way he's reacting to this NSA situation.

RE: Love the Logic
By djcameron on 7/25/2013 11:38:44 PM , Rating: 3
I was libertarian before libertarian was cool. Friends don't let friends vote Republican OR Democrat...there's no substantial difference.

RE: Love the Logic
By Reclaimer77 on 7/26/2013 9:04:40 AM , Rating: 2
Yes this is the biggest problem with the Republican party. They aren't really offering a big enough alternative to all this crap from Obama. There's still some Conservatives there, but the leadership are all RINO's.

They tried in the beginning, but the end result was the loss of elections. Being tagged with that "party of no" slander. And other such denigrations.

They're hands are tied somewhat. Today's culture has just been conditioned to hate and fear true Conservatism when they hear it. If Ronald Reagan ran today, I'm pretty sure he would lose in a landslide.

Like all politicians, unfortunately, at the end of the day it's more important to get votes and keep your constituents on your side.

Even on this NSA stuff. Poll after poll shows the majority of Americans are, shockingly, STILL in support of domestic spying! This I just do not understand. Under Bush the media was rolling out poll after poll showing the majority of Americans against warrantless wiretaps. So if you're adamantly against a few thousand wiretaps with some sort of over-site, how can you be FOR the Government now spying on nearly EVERY American with absolutely NO over-site!!??

Does Obama own some sort of brainwash raygun, or are people THIS stupid?

RE: Love the Logic
By webstorm1 on 7/26/2013 9:49:31 AM , Rating: 2
If they would leave the religious base behind they can get a lot more voters. I bet we won't see any action unless the midterms go poorly though. As it stands, I don't see Republicans taking a presidential election. If a bunch of incumbents get unseated they may make the long-needed cuts to social politics. If a politician wishes to espouse his religion that should be up to them. I like fiscal conservative and pro-constitution platforms; don't care about your social ideas. But the large base of sheep voters are still basing votes on pro gay marriage and free money. If you can divide the free money voters from the social justice voters you could conquer.

I would never align myself with a party but I have no problems voting for someone who can deliver on the few important things to me. But, I don't see that as the majority of Americans; they are either red or blue without any thought.

RE: Love the Logic
By NAVAIR on 7/26/2013 12:14:46 PM , Rating: 2
>"Poll after poll shows the majority of Americans are, shockingly, STILL in support of domestic spying! This I just do not understand."

You are right, when I spoke with my friends and family about this, they are willing to sacrifice their freedom for safety. I cannot understand this, it is not what the constitutional foundation of our country is built upon. Unfortunately, the price of freedom requires some bloodshed and as a nation; the majority does not have the stomach for the fight. Our rights are vanishing and no one seems to care...

RE: Love the Logic
By Florinator on 7/26/2013 12:58:27 PM , Rating: 2
or are people THIS stupid?

Isn't that an obvious "duh"?!

RE: Love the Logic
By Piiman on 7/27/2013 11:59:27 AM , Rating: 2
""party of no" slander. "

If its a fact its not slander.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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