WASHINGTON -- A measure that would have blunted efforts by the National Security Agency to collect data on Americans was blocked late Wednesday by a key U.S. House committee, despite a last-minute plea by its sponsor, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando.
Grayson was hoping to attach his legislation as an amendment to a broader defense funding bill, but members of the parlimentarian Rules Committee opted not to include it. He said he filed the measure in response to recent reports that the NSA was collecting phone data from millions of U.S. citizens, as well as tapping into the central servers of leading Internet providers.
"We do not and can not allow the U.S. military to operate on our soil against U.S. citizens," he told members of the Rules committee during an early-evening hearing. The NSA is a part of the Defense Department.
On Thursday, Grayson issued a statement blasting the committee:
“This is an extremely important issue for you, me, and everyone else. According to credible articles, the NSA is compiling personal data on each and every single one of us, even the entirely innocent—for no reason, other than the fact that they can,” he said. “This amendment should have received the full consideration of the House of Representatives, so that those of us who have been elected to represent our constituents can defend our freedom, end this gross invasion of privacy, and ensure that these actions cease immediately.”
The Grayson amendment would have barred all defense officials, including those at NSA, from collecting phone or Internet data on Americans unless there was "probable cause" of terrorism or a crime. Even before the decision, Grayson said he would try and find another way to pass it if the Rules Committee rejected the measure.
See a previous story on the issue here.