U.S. House rejects measure to stop NSA phone surveillance program

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nsa, privacy, surveillance, phone, house of representatives, prism, amash

The U.S. House rejected an effort to end the National Security Agency’s collection of Americans’ phone records on Wednesday night following an intensive but brief debate concerning the balance between individual’s rights to privacy and government efforts to stop terrorism, according to the Associated Press.

The challenge against the program failed by a narrow margin, with a 217-205 final vote that pitted liberal Democrats and libertarian conservatives against supporters of the Obama administration, Republicans, and national security experts.

This debate and vote in the House is the first instance lawmakers have had to position themselves on the secret surveillance programs revealed last month by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Representative Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the intelligence committee, entreated his colleagues in the House to back the surveillance program, saying “Have 12 years gone by and our memories faded so badly that we forgot what happened on Sept. 11?”

Demonstrative of the unusual split in opinions, the chief sponsor of the repeal effort is Representative Justin Amash, also a Republican from Michigan. Amash told the House that his goal is to top the government’s indiscriminate collection of phone data, defend the constitution, and “defend the privacy of every American.”

The overall defense spending bill allocating $598.3 billion for defense spending passed without Amash’s measure, with a vote of 315-109.

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