WASHINGTON -- In a recent letter to their House colleagues, seven Chairman of the national security committees and subcommittees in the House all came out in opposition to the Amash amendment to HR 2397, the Defense Appropriations bill. The text of the letter said:
"We urge you to vote against the Amash amendment to HR 2397, the Defense Appropriations bill. This amendment would preclude the use of certain call records except when named individuals are subject to an investigation and court order. This amendment would also have the effect of precluding the use of section 501 by the FBI to obtain an individual order for any business record (not just telephone data) about a person associated with someone who is the subject of an authorized investigation.
"While many Members have legitimate questions about the NSA metadata program, including whether there are sufficient protections for Americans' civil liberties, eliminating this program altogether without careful deliberation would not reflect our duty, under Article I of the Constitution, to provide for the common defense. Furthermore, the Amash amendment would have unintended consequences for the intelligence and law enforcement communities beyond the metadata program.
"We are committed to assisting all of our colleagues in reviewing this program, and we will continue to develop appropriate additional protections. We believe such changes should recognize both the privacy interests and security needs of every American, while reflecting actual intelligence and law enforcement operations. Any such changes ought to proceed through a regular legislative process so the effects can be understood and debated fully. A funds limitation provision on an appropriations bill is simply not the best way for Members to address their concerns about this program. For these reasons, we urge you to vote no on the amendment."
Committee on the Judiciary
Michael T. McCaul
Homeland Security Committee
Howard P. “Buck” McKeon
Committee on Armed Services
Committee on Appropriations
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Committee on Foreign Affairs
C.W. Bill Young
Committee on Appropriations, Defense Subcommittee