Bachmann defends NSA spying on Americans

"There’s no Fourth Amendment expectation of privacy" for phone records, Bachmann argued

Topics: Justin Amash, House Republicans, Michele Bachmann, NSA, Domestic Surveillance,

Republican Reps. Justin Amash and Michele Bachmann sparred over the NSA’s phone surveillance program, with Bachmann saying she is opposing Amash’s bill to defund it because “I believe that we need to win the War on Terror.”

The two were speaking during a monthly Conversation with Conservatives event, and Bachmann began by defending the program from arguments that it violates the Fourth Amendment. “Individuals do not own the records, the records belong to the company,” she said. “The records are in their possession, they belong to the phone companies, they’re not the individual’s. So there’s no Fourth Amendment expectation of privacy or right to the business-record exception.”

“That’s like saying our e-mails are the property of Google,” Amash said later. “We have a problem if that’s going to be our interpretation of the Fourth Amendment.”

“All you have to do is go home to your constituents and ask them whether they think they have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their phone records or any of their other records that are stored by any third party, and they will tell you yes,” he continued.

Bachmann also argued that defunding the program will hurt America’s counter-terrorism efforts: “If we take this program and remove from the United States the distinct advantage that we have versus any other country,” Bachmann said, according to the National Review, ”it will be those who are seeking to achieve the goals of Islamic jihad who will benefit by putting the United States at risk, and it will be the United States which will be at risk.”



The bill, which is expected to be taken up by the House on Wednesday, has strong bipartisan support and a decent chance at passing. The White House has strongly condemned it, saying that “This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process.” In the lead-up to the vote, NSA officials even scrambled to meet with members of both parties to lobby against it.

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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