House Rejects Effort to Curb NSA Surveillance

Posted at 9:31 PM, Jul 24, 2013

800px-Capitol_Building_3Washington (CNN) — The U.S. House on Wednesday narrowly defeated a proposal to sharply restrict the National Security Agency’s phone surveillance program that was exposed by Edward Snowden.

The Obama administration and House Speaker John Boehner, unlikely allies in the sharp partisan climate in Washington, joined forces to reject the limit offered as an amendment to a defense spending bill, 217-205.

A coalition of libertarian, liberal and conservative lawmakers pushed for curbs on the blanket collection of those records, arguing that it was too broad and intrusive.

Snowden, a former NSA contractor, revealed details of the bulk phone tracking effort and a companion e-mail collection initiative through leaks of classified information to media outlets last month. He has been charged with espionage.

Since then, a number of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have been highly critical of the sweeping way in which the government applies telephone surveillance that is overseen by a secret court.

They and privacy groups concluded the government had reached too far into the personal lives of Americans in the interests of national security.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican who sits on the Judiciary Committee, said during debate on the amendment that the NSA had exceeded its mandate. He said the measure would have halted surveillance of people not under direct investigation by authorities.

“The time has come to stop it,” he said.

But Rep. Tom Cotton said approval would have effectively killed the program, which he said has been found constitutional and approved by bipartisan majorities.

“Folks, we are at war,” said Cotton, an Arkansas Republican and Iraq War veteran who urged his colleagues not to undermine the surveillance tool he said was critical for troops in the field in counterterrorism operations.

Read thefull story on CNN.