To the Honorable Sam Johnson, US Representative 3rd district, Texas. It is clear that the indiscriminate collection of American's telephone data goes well beyond the intent of Congress in sections 401 of FISA and 215 of the PATIOT ACT. But until those laws can be properly revised to prevent the kinds secret interpretations that the Administration has given to them, Congress can -- with the Amash Amendment to HR 2397 -- send a clear message to at least defund the most abusive operations (that we happen to be aware of). Congress must send a clear signal that spying on citizens who are suspected of no crime is unacceptable in a democracy. And make no mistake about it, collecting our phone records, lists of contacts, and locations is spying. Only by sending a strong signal can we ensure that we actually will have the open discussion on this matter that the President claims he welcomes. I spent some time in Communist Hungary, and so I have seen a country where secret courts made secret laws and where the government felt free to spy on its own citizens. It would by hyperbolic to claim that the US is doing the same, but in all appearances we do seem to be heading down that road. Sincerely, Jeffrey GoldbergHere is some background on the Amash Amendment, and the White House response looks like a joke. The White House statement actually says,
This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative processThe various secret interpretations of FISA and the PATRIOT ACT by both the Obama and Bush Administrations checked only by secret courts that have never rejected an administration claim have become the law of the land through a process that is anything but open and deliberative.