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Ear to the Ground

National Security Agency Lobbies Congress to Keep Spying Powers

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Posted on Jul 23, 2013
NSA

An aerial view of the NSA’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Md.

The NSA’s top snoop spent four hours in classified briefings Tuesday trying to persuade members of the House to vote down an amendment that would defund the agency’s blanket surveillance of Americans.

Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., described by Roll Call as “a regular thorn in the side of leadership,” will be granted a vote on his amendment to a defense spending bill that would block funds to the NSA’s collection of call data. Other amendments allowed by GOP leaders to mollify the more libertarian wing of the party would prevent funding for operations in Syria and Egypt.

According to Roll Call, Amash’s NSA amendment will likely be the last of 100 to be voted on.

The Huffington Post broke the story of NSA head Gen. Keith Alexander’s secret, members-only meeting and published the text of the invitation: “In advance of anticipated action on amendments to the DoD Appropriations bill, Ranking Member C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of the House Intelligence Committee invites your Member to attend a question and answer session with General Keith B. Alexander of the National Security Agency.”

Elsewhere Tuesday, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., an ardent critic of government surveillance and a member of the intelligence and budget committees, warned, “The combination of increasingly advanced technology with a breakdown in the checks and balances that limit government action could lead us to a surveillance state that cannot be reversed.”

—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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