Justin Amash is selling the notion that ignorance about the scale of intelligence gathering led the poor freshman class of teatards to vote for renewing the PATRIOT Act (here’s the vote). His argument is that the Intelligence Committee (run by Republicans, mind you, so this is an intraparty “scandal”) didn’t distribute a report detailing the scope of NSA data collection. If they had, then the House would have killed the Patriot Act, on Amash’s telling.
I’m not buying. A majority of Democrats (70%) voted against the PATRIOT Act reauthorization. Were they all briefed? Or did they just see the Act for what it is: a symptom of 9/11 panic that needs to be dialed back, with obvious possibility for abuse. Amash was right to be in the 14% of Republicans who voted against it, but his excuse-making for the rest of his colleagues is pretty lame.
This is not to say that Congress could be better briefed, just that Congress has had plenty of opportunities to rein in the NSA and the other intelligence collection agencies, and they’ve let those opportunities slide. The current media environment just assumes that Congress will do nothing, gives them a pass, and focuses on the Obama Administration’s execution of the laws that Congress has passed. If Amash’s colleagues were really concerned that the NSA could collect domestic intelligence, they could pass a bill clarifying exactly what the NSA can collect. They were too busy repealing Obamacare for the 93rd time to do that, and Amash’s attempt to be the House’s Rand Paul is transparent bullshit.