In his best imitation of the national security indifference exhibited by characters like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), the extreme right winger who unsuccessfully went up against the speaker, has offered his own version of defense know-nothingism. The Post reports:
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) has offered an amendment to a defense spending bill that would restrict the National Security Agency’s ability to collect bulk phone records and metadata under the Patriot Act. The proposal has gotten the attention of the Obama administration. White House spokesman Jay Carney came out against the proposal last night, and the government has dispatched NSA Director Keith Alexander to Capitol Hill to lobby against it.
The good news is that between the Senate and the White House, this will never become law. The bad news is that Amash may induce a large number of Republicans to embarrass themselves on what should be an easy issue in anti-terrorism policy.
As we have discussed many times here, the program does not violate the Fourth Amendment. It has, however, disrupted numerous terrorist plots. I wonder if Michigan voters are pleased with the prospect of unilaterally rolling back a program that is responsible for dismantling potential attacks on them.
Amash, unfortunately, is trying to make a career out of extremist showboating. That behavior makes him and other similarly minded grandstanders unelectable on a national level, but it feeds their egos, I suppose, to have uninformed libertarians and left-wing opponents sing their praises.
The vote on the amendment scheduled for this evening will be close, I am told by House leadership. House GOP leaders are trying to defeat the amendment (given that they take national security seriously). Even Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) figured it out. “There is no expectation of privacy. Individuals do not own the records,” she said correctly. She added what should be self-evident: “I believe we need to win the war on terror, we need to defeat the goals and aims of radical jihadists.”
The White House is not blameless in this. They have not robustly defended the program nor until today shown signs of trying to help whip the vote. Instead, as one Hill staffer critical of the bill put it, “White House had a choice. Do the right thing and quietly defend this program without spinning up opposition, or publicly issue a statement and hope the House GOP makes a fool of themselves. They chose politics over national security, surprise, surprise.”
Let’s see if responsible Republicans and Democrats defeat this spasm of irresponsibility. And maybe instead of repeating his same tired domestic agenda, the president might think about a foreign policy speech that lays out a hearty defense of our anti-terror measures. (For good measure, he might even stop fighting Congress on new Iran sanctions.) You see, when the commander in chief ignores national security, most everyone else does as well.