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Explaining a surprising victory in Congress

Earlier this week, I joined host Thom Hartmann on The Big Picture to explain a surprising vote in the House of Representatives to defund parts of the NSA's domestic surveillance dragnet.

Last week, I published a blog post about the vote in greater detail, placing it in a political context, and suggesting some remaining pitfalls confronting NSA reform. As I wrote there:

The House vote was something of a surprise. Only weeks before, after the House approved a watered-down version of the USA FREEDOM Act, gutted by the Obama White House and Republican House leadership after receiving bipartisan support and approval in two different House committees. Several members of Congress made clear that their support for this week’s amendments to the House Defense Appropriations bill (mirroring a similar, nearly successful effort last year along similar lines) was prompted by the co-optation of their earlier reform efforts....

Other members of Congress who resisted earlier efforts to deny funding to the NSA’s domestic dragnet may have learned something from the experience of former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who lost a primary re-election vote shortly after helping to scuttle the USA FREEDOM Act. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, in particular, has endured sustained criticism from constituents and changed her tune since last year‘s debate.

Thursday’s vote shifts the landscape of the congressional debate, sending to the Senate a second set of proposed NSA reforms that better reflect the concerns of the American people. Even if successful, however, even this week’s amendments may not be enough to address even backdoor targeting....

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