House rejects curbing US spying program

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The US House of Representatives votes that the National Security Agency can continue with its controversial spying program collecting millions of phone records of Americans.

A 217-205 Wednesday vote against Republican Rep. Justin Amash’s effort rejected to end the administration’s authority to conduct surveillance on millions of Americans every day.

Rep. Amash said his effort was aimed to “defend the privacy of every American” and the US Constitution.

The legislation introduced by Mr. Amash was supposed to cancel the statutory authority for the NSA’s mass surveillance program as part of a nearly $600 billion defense spending bill for the next year.

His move was faced with hard lobbing by the White House, national security experts in Congress and many Republicans.

The amendment would have cut funding for NSA spying program which is part of the classified $30 billion intelligence budget.

On Tuesday, the White House also issued a statement criticizing the House’s effort “to hastily dismantle” the surveillance program, and calling on lawmakers to vote down the legislation.

In response, Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon and a critic of the government’s spying operations, blasted national security officials, saying they have “actively” misled the American public about domestic surveillance.

Years ago, Wyden had warned that the US government was secretly interpreting its powers under the Patriot Act in an alarming way. Wyden is now warning that the government’s power to collect records on people from third parties is “essentially limitless.”

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has disclosed that the government has been snooping on phone calls and emails of American citizens and other nationals.

The 30-year-old whistleblower is wanted in the US on charges of espionage and theft of government property.

 

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