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Letter of Support for Massie-Lofgren Amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2016, H.R. 2685

June 10, 2015

The Honorable John Boehner The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker Minority Leader
United States House of Representatives United States House of Representatives

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy The Honorable Steny Hoyer
Majority Leader Democratic Whip
United States House of Representatives United States House of Representatives

The Honorable Steve Scalise
Majority Whip
United States House of Representatives

The Honorable Hal Rogers The Honorable Nita Lowey
Chairman, Appropriations Committee Ranking Member, Appropriations Committee
United States House of Representatives United States House of Representatives

The Honorable Rodney Frelinghuysen The Honorable Pete Visclosky
Chairman, Defense Appropriations Subc. Ranking Member, Defense Appropriations Subc.
United States House of Representatives United States House of Representatives

RE: Massie-Lofgren Amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2016, H.R. 2685

Dear Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader McCarthy, Majority Whip Scalise, Chairman Rogers, Chairman Frelinghuysen, Democratic Leader Pelosi, Democratic Whip Hoyer, Ranking Member Lowey, and Ranking Member Visclosky:

We write to urge your support for an amendment that Representatives Massie and Lofgren will offer to H.R. 2685, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2016. In previous years, the amendment garnered the broad support of a majority of members of the House of Representatives. It addresses two critical issues necessary for the protection of Constitutional principles and the digital economy.

First, the amendment would defund warrantless government searches of the database of information collected under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 using U.S. person identifiers, absent certain circumstances. Although Section 702 prohibits the government from intentionally targeting the communications of U.S. persons, it does not explicitly restrict deliberately querying communications of Americans that were “inadvertently” or “incidentally” collected under Section 702. Moreover, following an apparent change in the NSA’s internal practices in 2011, the NSA now is explicitly permitted under certain circumstances to conduct searches using U.S. person names and identifiers without a warrant. In March, James Clapper, the Director of the Office of National Intelligence, confirmed in a letter to Senator Wyden that such warrantless queries of U.S. person communications are being conducted.

Second, the amendment would prohibit the use of appropriated funds to require or request that United States persons and entities build security vulnerabilities into their products or services in order to facilitate government surveillance, except as provided for by the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act.

This amendment is identical to the Massie-Lofgren amendment that passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming 293-vote majority in 2014, although it was not included in the omnibus appropriations bill that ultimately was enacted into law.

Today, this amendment enjoys overwhelming, bipartisan support, both from the public and from the undersigned groups. In addition to supporting these necessary steps forward by voting in favor of this amendment to H.R. 2685, we also respectfully ask you work to ensure it is included in any legislation sent to the President.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you further. Please contact Demand Progress policy director Daniel Schuman at [email protected] or 202-577-6100; FreedomWorks legislative affairs manager Josh Withrow at [email protected] or 202-783-3870; or Sunlight Foundation federal policy manager Sean Vitka at [email protected] or 845-558-2507.

Sincerely,

American Civil Liberties Union

Arab American Institute

Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Campaign for Liberty

The Constitution Project

Constitutional Alliance

Council on American-Islamic Relations

CREDO Mobile

Defending Dissent Foundation

Demand Progress

DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

Fight for the Future

Free Press Action Fund

 

 

FreedomWorks

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Media Alliance

New America’s Open Technology Institute

OpenMedia.org

OpenTheGovernment.org

Project On Government Oversight (POGO)

Restore The Fourth

RootsAction.org

Student Net Alliance

Sunlight Foundation

TechFreedom

X-Lab