I do like Representative Justin Amash (R-MI). He's been a man that has stood on his principles and not compromised them, even if they were unpopular. He's articulate and in addition, I appreciate that after every vote he casts, he goes to his Facebook page and informs his constituents how he voted and why (This should actually be mandatory for every congressman and senator). I think that builds trust in him as an elected official. It also causes me to lend my ear to him when he speaks out against abuses of government, especially on what we have been discovering regarding the National Security Agency. Amash told Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace, "Because we live in a dangerous world, we need protections like the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution."

Amash went on to say, "The Framers of the Constitution put it in place precisely because they were worried that you would have national security justification for violating people's rights."

General Michael Hayden, who has been the head of both the NSA and the Central Intelligence Agency, appeared opposite of Amash. He made brief comments on the closing of embassies and terror threats, which does make one wonder if this was all a ploy to bolster the NSA programs or divert attention from Benghazi. Hayden said he can said he can "only imagine what it would've taken for our government to take the kind of action described."

"This does look quite serious," the general added.

Rep. Amash seemed to agree with the general's comments stating that he believed the administration should do what it deemed "appropriate" due to threats.

Justin Amash was also asked about the recent asylum in Russia that was granted to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Congressman Amash credits Snowden with shedding light on surveillance that he says Congress knew nothing about.

"Without his doing what he did, Members of Congress of wouldn't have really known about it (the NSA spying)," Amash said, adding that he considers Snowden a whistle blower for telling Congress what they needed to know.

Whatever other information that Snowden may give out that might actually be dangerous to the United States, Amash said that was not the current issue, but those things would come out in time.

While Amash said that members of Congress did pass the PATRIOT Act and the FISA amendments act, he then went on to state that "members of Congress were not really aware, on the whole, about what these programs were being used for… the extent to which they were being used. Members of the intelligence community were told, but rank and file members really didn't have the information."

Hayden disagreed with Amash stating that Snowden, "made it more difficult for our security services to keep Americans safe."    

Hayden said that instead of going to superiors or those within government to affect change, he went outside to the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald and Wikileaks to spill the beans.

Ah yes, I'm dependent upon a government that didn't lift a finger to help 4 Americans under attack in Benghazi, but allowed them to die without any support and I'm expected to give up Constitutionally protected rights and trust that same government has my best interests at heart. Sorry General, I'm not buying it.

I'll note just one thing about Mr. Hayden. They say you can tell a lot by a person's eyes. Hayden blinks an awful lot once he's talking, which causes me not to trust him.

Hayden offered his opinion about how the US should deal with Russia too.

"I think its s jump-ball whether we should go to St Petersburg for the G20," he said.    

While Hayden said that the courts have said that Americans have no expectation of privacy and that these programs were vital in catching terrorists, Amash responded that there is no evidence that it is harder to catch terrorists with or without the invasiveness of the federal government and the meta-data collections. In fact, he cited several representatives that said the program "wasn't very effective."

Amash cited constituents in his home town and said they believe their privacy is being violated. He then went on to point out that the case cited by Hayden and relied upon by the Justice Department was a court case from the 1970s, Smith v. Maryland, where one person was under suspicion for a limited period of time and the feds collected his records.

"That's very different from collecting the phone records and other data of every single American in the United States," Justin Amash said.    

While General Hayden tried to make the case that the programs that snoop do so "lightly," it was Amash pointing out the dangerous road being traveled and said that the intelligence communities assume that because you do business with a third party that information then becomes "public property." As a result, they may start with only meta-data, but according to their doctrine, anything else is game as well such as the actual content of calls, what you spend, the types of services you receive and so on. Furthermore, meta-data can tell you quite a bit of information about a person and their life.

There is no doubt that the NSA does not need to be snooping on every single individual in America. They just don't. There is not rationalizing that.

In the final analysis, there is a movement supported by Amash and the American people to do a few of the following things to restrict the NSA;

  • Have a special counsel to challenge government requests in secret court. (Personally, I think the entire idea of secret courts is opposed to a free society and should be done away with)
  • Reducing how long phone records can be kept from 5 to 2 years
  • Releasing information yearly on # of warrants government seeks

While Hayden said these were things government was looking at to make people more comfortable, he said it wasn't right to misrepresent it either. "The program doesn't collect content," he said.

Amash obviously wasn't misrepresenting the program. He was simply stating that following it to its logical conclusion, it would eventually lead to collecting content. He also said he was looking forward to putting bills through that would bring greater restrictions upon the intelligence community.

UPDATE: Barack Obama cancelled a private meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that was set to be held in Moscow during the G20 summit next month following Russia granting asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

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