The Amash Amendment to the defense appropriations bill took the wrong approach to an issue of national importance. I carefully read the full text of both amendments before the vote and I voted for the Pompeo Amendment because, unlike the flawed Amash Amendment, it will actually protect the content of American citizens’ phone calls. The amendment I voted for will prevent the NSA from listening to phone calls without a court order and it will protect all American citizens from being targeted by the NSA. You can see the text of both amendments here: http://culberson.house.gov/protecting-your-right-to-privacy/.
The Amash Amendment was essentially a light switch—it turned the money either fully on or fully off and did nothing to fix a flawed but vital program. The Amash Amendment would have taken us back to September 10, 2001 and made us vulnerable to terrorist attacks. That would have been unacceptable.
We will have a separate bill in October to revise these NSA programs, and I am currently working with the House Intelligence Committee on legislation that will change the PATRIOT Act to ensure that the NSA can only focus its work on foreign nationals. These programs need to be continually reviewed and tweaked to ensure our privacy rights are protected. The Pompeo Amendment I supported accomplishes that goal while still ensuring that the NSA can track foreign nationals engaged in terrorist activities against the United States of America.
The NSA serves an important role in protecting Americans at home by tracking terror suspects abroad. The Amash Amendment would have prevented the collection and analysis of ALL bulk data in America — not just the data of American citizens. This would protect the data of terrorists who are operating sleeper cells in this country and make us vulnerable to future terrorist attacks. The NSA has successfully stopped several domestic terrorist attacks, and we need to continue tracking and stopping terrorists while at the same time protecting the privacy and Constitutional rights of American citizens.
My hero, Thomas Jefferson, was right when he said that our liberty was more secure when the government was more afraid of us than we are of the government. Last night, I voted for the Pompeo Amendment because it protects the privacy of American citizens. The Pompeo Amendment prohibits the NSA from targeting people in the United States and protects the content of our phone calls from the NSA. Specifically, the Pompeo Amendment prohibits the NSA from listening to phone calls of American citizens without a court ordered search warrant. It protects our privacy and protects our Constitutional rights without destroying the NSA’s ability to track terrorists, as I believe the Amash Amendment would have done. For example, the Amash Amendment could have prevented the NSA from tracking the Boston bombing suspects. With the Pompeo Amendment, both our privacy and our security were protected.