Boehner Supports End to NSA Mass Surveillance

The House speaker backs moderate legislation from the Intelligence Committee.

Speaker of the House John Boehner.
National Journal
Brendan Sasso
March 26, 2014, 8:38 a.m.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4844) }}

House Speak­er John Boehner in­dic­ated Wed­nes­day that he plans to al­low a vote on le­gis­la­tion that would end the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency’s con­tro­ver­sial prac­tice of col­lect­ing re­cords on mil­lions of U.S. phone calls.

“The bill rep­res­ents the start of a bi­par­tis­an con­ver­sa­tion about how we main­tain our cap­ab­il­it­ies to thwart at­tacks, while ad­dress­ing pri­vacy and civil-liber­ties con­cerns that many Amer­ic­ans have,” Boehner said at a press con­fer­ence. “And so I ex­pect that part of this ef­fort will in­clude the end of the gov­ern­ment hold­ing on to bulk data. And, ul­ti­mately, I’m hope­ful that bi­par­tis­an co­oper­a­tion will lead to res­ults that all sides can sup­port—and, most im­port­antly, keep Amer­ica safe.”

Boehner is sup­port­ing a bill in­tro­duced Wed­nes­day by Reps. Mike Ro­gers, the chair­man of the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, and Dutch Rup­pers­ber­ger, the pan­el’s top Demo­crat. The law­makers are fierce de­fend­ers of the NSA, and their bill now rep­res­ents the more mod­er­ate le­gis­lat­ive ap­proach for re­form­ing the NSA.

Un­der their le­gis­la­tion, the vast data­base of phone re­cords would stay in the hands of the phone com­pan­ies. The NSA could force the phone com­pan­ies to turn over par­tic­u­lar re­cords, and the For­eign In­tel­li­gence Sur­veil­lance Court would re­view the NSA or­ders after the fact.

The le­gis­la­tion is ex­pec­ted to be sim­il­ar to a pro­pos­al that Pres­id­ent Obama will out­line later this week. 

Sen­ate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Patrick Leahy and Rep. Jim Sensen­bren­ner are still push­ing a more ag­gress­ive bill to rein in the NSA’s power. Their bill, the USA Free­dom Act, would raise the stand­ard that the NSA would need to meet to ac­cess the phone data and curb oth­er pro­grams, such as In­ter­net sur­veil­lance of people in oth­er coun­tries.

Boehner ap­peared to be skep­tic­al of any pro­pos­als that would be more ag­gress­ive in ex­pand­ing pri­vacy rights than the Ro­gers-Rup­pers­ber­ger le­gis­la­tion.

“As you know, I’ve long said these pro­grams ex­ist to save Amer­ic­an lives—and they have. And while there are some val­id pri­vacy con­cerns, it would be ir­re­spons­ible to end these pro­grams be­fore we have a cred­ible al­tern­at­ive,” Boehner said.

The NSA main­tains that the bulk phone data col­lec­tion is au­thor­ized un­der Sec­tion 215 of the Pat­ri­ot Act. If Con­gress doesn’t act be­fore June 1, 2015, that pro­vi­sion will ex­pire, and the pro­gram will have to end en­tirely.

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
When It Comes to Mining Asteroids, Technology Is Only the First Problem
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Obama Reflects on His Economic Record
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Reagan Families, Allies Lash Out at Will Ferrell
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."

Source:
PEAK CONFIDENCE
Clinton No Longer Running Primary Ads
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-ex­pec­ted primary battle be­hind her, former Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton (D) is no longer go­ing on the air in up­com­ing primary states. “Team Clin­ton hasn’t spent a single cent in … Cali­for­nia, In­di­ana, Ken­tucky, Ore­gon and West Vir­gin­ia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “cam­paign has spent a little more than $1 mil­lion in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone back­er in the Sen­ate, said the can­did­ate should end his pres­id­en­tial cam­paign if he’s los­ing to Hil­lary Clin­ton after the primary sea­son con­cludes in June, break­ing sharply with the can­did­ate who is vow­ing to take his in­sur­gent bid to the party con­ven­tion in Phil­adelphia.”

Source:
CITIZENS UNITED PT. 2?
Movie Based on ‘Clinton Cash’ to Debut at Cannes
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."

Source:
×