Opinion

Justin Amash: 'Nothing the president said today will end the unconstitutional invasion of Americans' privacy'

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Rep. Justin Amash, a staunch supporter of the Fourth Amendment, responded to President Obama's Friday speech about the National Security Agency by saying none of Obama's reforms would “end the unconstitutional invasion of Americans' privacy.”

The Michigan Republican made the statement on his Facebook page, noting that “the era of secret law will continue,” despite Obama’s claims of reform and support for Fourth Amendment.

“We now know that for some years our government has collected private information about our communications — and in many cases, the communications themselves,” Amash said. “The government does this despite the fact that it suspects us of no wrongdoing.”

Amash made clear that “nothing the president said today will end the unconstitutional invasion of Americans’ privacy.”

Obama claimed that he would stop the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, but that the government would still have access to them whenever it wanted.

Instead, Amash said, Obama instructed the government to continue the warrantless searches of those records — “but just a little less vigorously.”

Amash knocked the president for putting the very people who contorted the law and authorized sweeping data collection programs will now be able to end the secrecy of those programs if they feel like it.

“The president said that the era of secret law will continue, that the court decisions that have contorted Congress' limits on surveillance into broad authorizations will remain secret -- but the intelligence officials who have executed mass surveillance and lied to Congress will, in their discretion, release some of the rulings as they see fit,” Amash said.

Amash ended his statement by pointing to a bill he co-sponsored with Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. — the original author of the Patriot Act..

The USA Freedom Act currently has 125 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House.

Amash’s full statement is below:

“‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated ... ’

“The Founders proposed the Fourth Amendment to end once and for all suspicionless searches and seizures of Americans' personal property and information.

“We now know that for some years our government has collected private information about our communications — and in many cases, the communications themselves. The government does this despite the fact that it suspects us of no wrongdoing.

“Nothing the president said today will end the unconstitutional invasion of Americans' privacy.

“The president said he will not end the Patriot Act's Sec. 215 program that collects the records of every phone call every American makes. Instead, he said that the government will continue to search those records without a warrant — but just a little less vigorously.

“The president said that when the government issues a subpoena to an Internet service provider for an American's records, the government still can impose a permanent gag order on the ISP — but just when the government 'demonstrates a real need for further secrecy.'

“The president said that the era of secret law will continue, that the court decisions that have contorted Congress' limits on surveillance into broad authorizations will remain secret — but the intelligence officials who have executed mass surveillance and lied to Congress will, in their discretion, release some of the rulings as they see fit.

“Congress must do what the president apparently will not: end the unconstitutional violation of Americans' privacy, stop the suspicionless surveillance of our people, and close the era of secret law.

“A coalition of 125 House members from both sides of the aisle have signed on to the USA Freedom Act. Has your congressman done the same?”

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