White House argues to keep NSA’s PRISM program amid vote to shut it down

The House of Representatives is set to vote Wednesday on a measure to defund the NSA’s PRISM program.

Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan introduced an amendment to a defense spending bill which would block PRISM using the GOP’s preferred method of attack: By defunding it.

“My amendment blocks funding of NSA’s collection of personal data if that data does not pertain to a person under investigation,” Amash said. The defunding strategy is referred to as a “blunt approach” because it avoids actually debating the ethics or efficacy of the thing and instead aims to simply starve it of dollars.

The White House remained defiant amid vote to shut it down, arguing that PRISM should be kept in place.

“This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open or deliberative process,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney. We urge the House to reject the Amash amendment, and instead move forward with an approach that appropriately takes into account the need for a reasoned review of what tools can best secure the nation.”

NSA chief Gen. Alexander went on a lobbying mission, trying to convince Representatives not to vote for the Amash measure. But even he acknowledges that no one on either side of the aisle is happy about PRISM. “What you can see is that everybody wants to ensure we protect civil liberties and privacy and defend this country,” he told CNN. “We have that responsibility, and the issue is, how do we do that? How do we take care of our people and protect our civil liberties and privacy? This is a tough issue.”

Even if the vote passes the House (which it probably will—voting to defund stuff is like an official pastime over there) it likely won’t pass in the Senate, and PRISM will remain in place.

In related news, Edward Snowden is finally moving out of the Moscow airport and into the city of Moscow proper. The U.S. isn’t any more likely to give up on their extradition efforts than they are on PRISM, however.

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