Conyers Floor Statement on Amendment Ending the NSA’s Mass Surveillance of Americans
(WASHINGTON) – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives considered H.R. 2397, the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014.” Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Congressman Justin Amash (R-Mich.) offered an amendment to this legislation that would curtail the blanket collection of telephone records by the National Security Agency (NSA). During the debate over this amendment Rep. Conyers delivered the following statement:
“I rise in support this amendment, which I am cosponsoring with my colleague from Michigan, Representative Justin Amash. This amendment will prevent mass collection of personal records, such as phone calling information, under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. When Congress passed and later revised this provision, we did not intend for it to authorize the bulk, indiscriminate collection of personal information of individuals not under investigation.
“However, we have learned that this law has been misused to allow the collection of call detail information on every phone call made in the United States under a bizarre interpretation of the statute’s authorization to collect “relevant” information. As my colleague and author of the statute, Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, has stated, ‘This expansive characterization of relevance makes a mockery of the legal standard.’
“This amendment will not stop the proper use of PATRIOT Act and FISA authorities to conduct terrorism and intelligence investigations. All this amendment is intended to do is curtail the ongoing dragnet collection and storage of the personal records of innocent Americans.
“Our joining together on this bipartisan amendment demonstrates our joint commitment to ensuring that our fight against terrorism and espionage follows the rule of law and the clear intent of the statutes passed by Congress. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to vote for this amendment to demonstrate our bipartisan commitment to protecting individual liberty.”