A bit of positive news on this Bill Watch! Wednesday, as Michigan (R) Representative Justin Amash has submitted an amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014 with the goal of reigning in government surveillance by the NSA through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. From the Daily Caller:
“None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to collect tangible things (including telephone numbers dialed, telephone numbers of incoming calls, and the duration of calls) pursuant to an order under section 501 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1861) if such things do not pertain to a person who is the subject of an investigation described in such section,” states the amendment.
That’s all well and good, and it’s nice to see our representatives actually trying to stand up for our liberty, however if we play Devil’s Advocate here things don’t look as rosy. Why? Simply because “funding” has never really been an issue, in all honesty. Saying that funds can’t be used for this type of surveillance doesn’t guarantee that it won’t happen, and this amendment isn’t moving to “de-fund” the NSA or anything along those lines. It would take another whistleblower to report any violations, and seeing how Snowden has been hounded by our government, I’m sure it will be a while until the next one rears his or her head.
Really, what is needed is a group of “consumer advocates” that is outside the government, but with the classified clearances that civilians are capable of obtaining, to watch over this type of matter. “When the cat’s away the mice will play” is a very old saying that still holds water. Government unsupervised is unrestrained when left to its own devices. The public has to be able to watchdog the government and have its own public agents embedded to assure that there isn’t any underhanded action going on behind the scenes. The government loves to put its “consumer advocates” into the business world to make sure it stays on the path of righteousness – why can’t we follow the same blueprint?