Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Algeria: What's the Choice? Incumbent Bouteflika Votes in Wheelchair

Read more

WEB NEWS

Nigerian web users call for end to violence

Read more

FOCUS

Bitcoin in the US: A monetary revolution?

Read more

ENCORE!

Fast cars and slow trains

Read more

WEB NEWS

Chile: online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

FACE-OFF

François Hollande: France's most unpopular president

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Mansouria Mokhefi, Middle East and North Africa specialist

Read more

LIFESTYLES

Sustainable cuisine

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Google Was Making A Space Elevator And A Hoverboard, But Couldn't Get Them To Work

Read more

  • Russia and West agree on steps to ease Ukraine crisis

    Read more

  • Low turnout in Algerian election tipped to return Bouteflika

    Read more

  • With a strong French presence, veterans and fresh faces, Cannes aims to please

    Read more

  • After cup defeat, Spanish pundits read last rites for Barcelona

    Read more

  • Frantic search for survivors of sunken South Korea ferry

    Read more

  • India heads to polls in single largest day of voting

    Read more

  • Ukraine talks open in Geneva as Putin talks tough on TV

    Read more

  • Pro-Russian separatists killed in attack on Black Sea base

    Read more

  • Man executed in Texas for 2002 triple murder

    Read more

  • Scandal-hit French doctor Jacques Servier dies at 92

    Read more

  • Belgian head of wildlife reserve shot in DR Congo

    Read more

  • Crunch talks on Ukraine begin in Geneva

    Read more

  • Stagehand of God? Maradona's legendary goal inspires a play

    Read more

  • US rolls out red carpet for French critic of capitalism

    Read more

  • N. Korea not amused by London hair salon's Kim Jong-un ad

    Read more

  • Real Madrid beat old foes Barcelona to lift Copa del Rey

    Read more

  • France's new PM targets welfare in drive to cut spending

    Read more

  • Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

    Read more

  • Brazil club Mineiro cancel Anelka signing after no-show

    Read more

  • Syria 'torture' photos silence UN Security Council members

    Read more

  • Paris laboratory loses deadly SARS virus samples

    Read more

  • More than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped in northeast Nigeria

    Read more

  • New York police disband unit targeting Muslims

    Read more

  • 'Miracle girl' healthy after seven-organ transplant in Paris

    Read more

  • Paris police memo calling for Roma eviction ‘rectified’

    Read more

Americas

US lower house votes to extend NSA surveillance

© AFP

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-07-25

The US lower house on Wednesday narrowly approved extending the National Security Agency programme that collects the phone records and online exchanges of US citizens, after a privacy debate following revelations by ex-NSA analyst Edward Snowden.

The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly approved continuing the National Security Agency’s secret collection of hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone records after a fierce debate pitting privacy rights against the government’s efforts to thwart terrorism.

Wednesday night’s 217-205 vote was unlikely to be the final word on government intrusion to defend the U.S. and Americans’ civil liberties.

A vote marked the first chance for lawmakers to take a stand on the secret surveillance program since former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden leaked classified documents last month that spelled out the monumental scope of the government’s activities.

Republican Rep. Justin Amash had challenged the program as an indiscriminate collection of phone records, saying his effort was to defend the U.S. Constitution and “defend the privacy of every American.”

His measure, offered as an addition to a $598.3 billion defense spending bill for 2014, would have canceled the statutory authority for the NSA program, ending the agency’s ability to collect phone records and metadata under the USA Patriot Act unless it identified an individual under investigation.

The House later voted to pass the overall defense bill, 315-109.

The issue created unusual political coalitions in Washington, with the Obama administration, national security leaders in Congress and the Republican establishment facing off against libertarian-leaning conservatives and some liberal Democrats.

The measure faces strong opposition in the Senate and from the White House and is unlikely to survive in a final spending bill.

“Have 12 years gone by and our memories faded so badly that we forgot what happened on Sept. 11?” Rep. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the Intelligence committee, said in pleading with his colleagues to back the program.

With a flurry of letters, statements and tweets, both sides lobbied furiously in the hours prior to the vote in the Republican-controlled House. The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, warned against dismantling a critical intelligence tool.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Congress has authorized - and a Republican and a Democratic president have signed - an extension of the powers to search records and conduct roving wiretaps in pursuit of terrorists.

Since the disclosures this year, however, lawmakers have said they were shocked by the scope of the two programs - one to collect records of hundreds of millions of calls and the other allowing the NSA to sweep up Internet usage data from around the world that goes through nine major U.S.-based providers.

“We’ve really gone overboard on the security side,” said Rep. Peter Welch, who said it was time for a full debate on behalf of U.S. taxpayers about programs long cloaked in secrecy and part of an annual classified intelligence budget of about $30 billion.

The White House and the director of the NSA, Army Gen. Keith Alexander, made last-minute appeals to lawmakers, urging them to oppose the amendment. Eight former attorneys general, CIA directors and national security experts wrote in a letter to lawmakers that the two programs are fully authorized by law and “conducted in a manner that appropriately respects the privacy and civil liberties interests of Americans.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney issued an unusual statement on the eve of Wednesday’s vote, arguing that the change would “hastily dismantle one of our intelligence community’s counterterrorism tools.”

Proponents of the NSA programs argue that the surveillance operations have been successful in thwarting at least 50 terror plots across 20 countries, including 10 to 12 directed at the United States. Among them was a 2009 plot to strike at the New York Stock Exchange.

The overall defense spending bill would provide the Pentagon with $512.5 billion for weapons, personnel, aircraft and ships plus $85.8 billion for the war in Afghanistan for the next budget year.

The total, which is $5.1 billion below current spending, has drawn a veto threat from the White House, which argues that it would force the administration to cut education, health research and other domestic programs in order to boost spending for the Pentagon.

Also Wednesday, the House backed an amendment that would require the president to seek congressional approval before sending U.S. military forces into the 2-year-old civil war in Syria.

The administration is moving ahead with sending weapons to vetted rebels, but Obama and members of Congress have rejected the notion of U.S. ground forces.

The House also adopted an amendment barring funds for military or paramilitary operations in Egypt amid concerns about the measure jeopardizing the United States’ longstanding relationship with the Egyptian military.

The overall bill must be reconciled with whatever measure the Democratic-controlled Senate produces.

(AP)

Date created : 2013-07-25

  • RUSSIA

    Edward Snowden to stay at Moscow airport

    Read more

  • RUSSIA

    Putin says Snowden dubious 'gift’ to Russia from US

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    French lawsuit filed over alleged US snooping

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)