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Caucus Diary
This is a Caucus diary, a community diary created by The Caucus Project group at DailyKos.

The goal of this diary is not to debate the policy position of the diarist; it is for people who support the position statement to discuss and debate proposed ideas for action, and to organize.  The diarist will post a position statement, which will include a solicitation for possible courses of action or a proposal for action, tactics and strategy.

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Position Statement:

Bipartisanship we can believe in -- Democrats should support the Amash/Conyers amendment, and call Congress now.

This amendment is sponsored by a Republican, but it is co-sponsored by a Democrat, John Conyers, and others.  At least two coalition web sites have been created:
DefundtheNSA.com
Demand Progress (Aaron Swartz organization) Action page

The amendment is an important amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill and it is going to come up for a vote quickly, either Weds. night or Thurs. morning.  The NSA is already organizing against it, which means it is likely that the administration is against it.  This is a situation where we should side with the bipartisan coalition proposing this amendment because it's the only power that the people's representatives in Congress have over the executive branch agencies -- the power of the pocketbook.

Proposal for Action: We should join the DefundtheNSA.com and Demand Progress coalitions and organize as many people as we can to call our representatives in the House to tell them to vote for the Amash/Conyers amendment and we should do it immediately.

Update: DailyKos Actions is also supporting this amendment.  Here is their campaign.



Difference between two amendments




News stories


Justin Amash's NSA Surveillance Amendment Ruled In Order

Amash's amendment received bipartisan support from the start, including backing from Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) upon the bill's introduction in June. From the House Rules Committee's website:

Ends authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act. Bars the NSA and other agencies from using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records, including telephone call records, that pertain to persons who are not subject to an investigation under Section 215.
It’s not a partisan issue. It’s something that cuts across the entire political spectrum,” Amash told the Rules panel, according to Politico.

Last week, MLive.com relayed background on Amash's agenda, which included a threat of "insurrection" against changes to 2014 defense appropriations. According to Politico, the House Rules Committee decided Monday that 100 amendments in total would be allowed consideration, headed by NSA and Syria concerns.

[Emphasis added]

NSA's Keith Alexander Calls Emergency Private Briefing To Lobby Against Justin Amash Amendment Curtailing Its Power

WASHINGTON -- The National Security Agency called for a "top secret" meeting with members of the House on Tuesday to lobby against the first House amendment to challenge the agency's authority to cull broad swaths of communications data, according to an invitation circulated in Congress.
[...]
NSA head Gen. Keith Alexander scheduled a last-minute, members-only briefing in response to the amendment, according to an invitation distributed to members of Congress this morning and forwarded to HuffPost. "In advance of anticipated action on amendments to the DoD Appropriations bill, Ranking Member C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of the House Intelligence Committee invites your Member to attend a question and answer session with General Keith B. Alexander of the National Security Agency," reads the invitation.

The invitation warned members that they could not share what they learned with their constituents or others. "The briefing will be held at the Top Secret/SCI level and will be strictly Members-Only," reads the invite.

[Emphasis added]

House forces vote on amendment that would limit NSA bulk surveillance
Opposition to bulk surveillance swells with vote that would 'end authority for blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act'

Congressional opposition to the NSA's bulk surveillance on Americans swelled on Tuesday as the US House prepared to vote on restricting the collection of US phone records and a leading Senate critic blasted a "culture of misinformation" around government surveillance.
[...]
"The people have spoken through their representatives," Amash told the Guardian on Tuesday. "This is an opportunity to vote on something that will substantially limit the ability of the NSA to collect their phone records without suspicion."
[...]
In a sign of how crucial the NSA considers its bulk phone records collection, which a secret surveillance court reapproved on Friday, its director, General Keith Alexander, held a four-hour classified briefing with members of Congress. Alexander's meeting was listed as "top-secret" and divided into two two-hour sessions, the first for Republicans and the second for Democrats. Staffers for the legislators were not permitted to attend.
[...]
Wyden assailed administration and intelligence officials for describing their surveillance as limited in public remarks while secretly briefing legislators about their broad scope.

"The public was not just kept in the dark about the Patriot Act and other secret authorities," Wyden said. "The public was actively misled."

[Emphasis added]



Action


Go to the Demand Progress action page and/or the DefundtheNSA.com site and join in the coalitions to take action.  Then spread the word on social media, write about it, tell people about it, and act quickly.  Important: Please don't forget to use the Facebook "Like" and the "Tweet" buttons at the top of the diary to send this out via social media.

Defund the NSA.com

Dear Internet,
It's been just over a month since the NSA’s dragnet surveillance program was leaked to the public. Tomorrow, Congress is voting on an amendment that would block funding for NSA programs that collect the call records of innocent Americans.
A win tomorrow may start a chain reaction - but it won't happen unless we speak up. We have one day to convince Congress to act.

A critical vote is happening tomorrow, July 24th, on the Defense Appropriations Bill in the House of Representatives. The bill gives taxpayer money to fund defense programs, including NSA surveillance.
Yesterday, an important bipartisan amendment to that bill was green-lighted to be voted on tomorrow. Proposed by Rep. Justin Amash (MI), the amendment would remove funding for blanket collection of phone records and metadata from cell phone service providers.

The summary of the amendment on the House of Representatives website reads:

Ends authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act. Bars the NSA and other agencies from using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records, including telephone call records, that pertain to persons who are not subject to an investigation under Section 215.
The vote on this bill is critical. We need to flood Congress with calls in support of the amendment, and hold our representatives accountable.

If you care about the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and if you believe that privacy is critical to liberty, now is the time to act.

Just a few dozen calls to a single representative can change the way they vote.

This bill will not pass without our support. Tell Congress that you care about privacy. Call your representative now.

Demand Action (Aaron Swartz' organization)
Vote is TOMORROW! Tell your lawmakers to oppose NSA surveillance:

This is the real deal: As the NSA spying revelations continue to unfold, we increasingly find ourselves facing the reality that -- at any moment -- the federal government could be listening to our phone calls, watching our email traffic, keeping tabs on our Internet browsing, or worse.

But now we have our first real chance to fight back -- please add your name at right to take a stand.

On Wednesday Reps Justin Amash, John Conyers, and others will offer an amendment to defund much of the NSA's broad-based domestic surveillance. 

We have a chance of winning this vote -- and, critically, we also have an opportunity to get our lawmakers on record.  We'll finally know who supports spying on Americans, and who opposes it.

This is a huge opportunity -- and we don't know when we'll have another one like it.  Please help us make the most of it.  

You can click here to encourage your friends to email their lawmakers right away:

If you're already on Facebook, click here to share with your friends.

If you're already on Twitter, click here to tweet about the campaign: Tweet

Add your name at right to send a note to your lawmakers.

Update: Here is the campaign by DailyKos and RootsAction:
Tell the House: Curtail NSA data collection by passing the Amash amendment

This week, there will be a vote on the Amash amendment––introduced by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), co-sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and over 30 other bipartisan members. This amendment will substantially curtail the NSA's domestic spying program by limiting bulk data collection by the NSA––no more sweeping data collection of the phone records of people who are not the subject of a terrorism or espionage investigation.
[...]
Please join with Daily Kos and RootsAction to urge your representative to vote in favor of the Amash amendment to begin curtailing the NSA domestic spying program.

Update: CREDO has an action page. 2,124 calls reported as of 8pm Eastern.
CREDO Action

URGENT: Make a call to stop the NSA from spying on us

On Wednesday there will be a vote on an amendment that would rein in the NSA's indiscriminate practice of collecting the phone call records of all Americans.

If you care about protecting our First and Fourth Amendment rights, this is a vital time to pick up the phone and speak out.



Reactions


Originally posted to Caucus on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 01:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by The First and The Fourth, Occupy Wall Street, Team DFH, The Amateur Left, Progressive Policy Zone, and Frustrati.

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