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US House of Representatives Votes To Cut Funding To NSA

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the congress-threatening-to-actually-do-something dept.

Government 164

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. House of Representatives voted late Thursday night, 293 to 123, to approve an amendment to the NSA's appropriations bill that cuts all funding for warrantless surveillance and for programs that force companies to create backdoors in their products. The success of this vote in the House is attributed to the fact that the amendment did not have to go through the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees and also to the increasingly apparent unpopularity of NSA activities among voters. Although privacy advocates laud the vote, there are those who note that the amendment specifically applies to the NSA and CIA while remaining silent on other agencies such as the FBI. The appropriations bill in its entirety will now proceed to the Senate for approval."

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The FBI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47280537)

Female body imspectors should not have their funding cut!

Re:The FBI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47280761)

Is that seriously the best FP you could come up with?

It's the best news we've had in a while.

Re:The FBI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47282361)

Ever since the government started funding their own FBI, private FBI (the little guys) have had a hard time IFB.

Next! (5, Funny)

M3.14 (1616191) | about 3 months ago | (#47280543)

Well, NSA's bust! Let's failover to NSB (N.S.Bureau) and continue without any problems. But - hey, sssh - noone needs to know, right?!

Re:Next! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47280573)

Mod points; my kingdom for mod points

Re:Next! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47280587)

Doesn't matter, the Senate will shoot it down faster than Cheney's hunting partner on a fowling expedition.

Feinstein will make sure of it.

Re:Next! (1)

CeasedCaring (1527717) | about 3 months ago | (#47281421)

"Doesn't matter, the Senate will shoot it down faster than Cheney's hunting partner on a fowling expedition."
They won't need to. For every dollar NSA funding is publicly cut, their "Black Budget" funding will increase by at least double .

Re:Next! (1)

CeasedCaring (1527717) | about 3 months ago | (#47281427)

By double I meant $2

Re:Next! (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about 3 months ago | (#47280591)

well, cia wasn't supposed to be doing it on american soil in the first place... and nsa has secret court warrants anyways?

Re:Next! (4, Insightful)

DickBreath (207180) | about 3 months ago | (#47280979)

Funny? Why oh why wasn't your post moded Insightful?

A few decades ago the very existence of NSA was a secret. The CIA had a bad rep.

Now the NSA has a bad rep. So it's time to wind down the importance of NSA and introduce a new sooper dooper sekrit spy agency that can do dirty tricks in the dark without oversight, and especially without pesky annoyances like laws and the constitution. Meanwhile the NSA and CIA can both get all the public bad press, criticism, and 'oversight' of pointy-haired congresscritters.

Re:Next! (4, Interesting)

radja (58949) | about 3 months ago | (#47281143)

Funny? probably some dutchmen at work here. NSB was the dutch nazi party just before and during WW2. In dutch 'NSBer' still means traitor or snitch.

Re:Next! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47281965)

Well we can skip B and go straight to C

Next! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47281095)

This is how revolution works people. Kicking them in their nuts through the house. And if that don't work, kicking their ass on the streets. Rock on!

Re:Next! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47281433)

After the 26th failover, their evil plan will be foiled, so that's OK too.

Re:Next! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47282171)

nah they will soon announce its all beena mistake they meant to cut funding to NASA instead!

Re:Next! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 3 months ago | (#47282237)

You are overly worried. Obama already has a meme for this scenario: The law still demands these things be done, this just cuts the funding.

But I shall interpret the demand as creating a valid debt, which, by the Constitution, we are obligated to pay. Therefore I shall ignore Congress' spending freeze just like I wanted to do in the sequester debacle.

It's all memes baby!

Re:Next! (2)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 3 months ago | (#47282405)

Current trend is to privatize dirty work so it doesn't have to make government look bad and can't be easily asked to be audited.

So NSC. National Security Company. Aka Whitewater, because what could possibly go wrong!

toilets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47280559)

Ok, so now toilets will cost $100k each instead of only $20k.

Hm... (2)

skovnymfe (1671822) | about 3 months ago | (#47280561)

Clearly people want to be monitored at all times, they just haven't been convinced properly yet. And as a result of the monitoring that NSA done up to now, they already have a list of all the people who don't want to be monitored. They could just pay those people a visit. You know? Convince them properly. Or make them go away.

Re:Hm... (2)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 3 months ago | (#47280597)

No, actually what the NSA needs to do is launch a PR campaign to tell us just why we need to be monitored. I'm thinking super bowl commercials, ads on the front page of newspapers, billboards, and a sticker on each banana sold. *grabs calculator* Let's see.... this should cost.... Well, I'll be. Exactly the same amount as what the House is cutting. Plus a billion dollars.

Re:Hm... (4, Insightful)

DickBreath (207180) | about 3 months ago | (#47281009)

The NSA would need a logo and branding for such a large advertising and PR campaign as you suggest.

I know! How about Big Brother is Watching You! And the face should, of course, have a smile and a pleasant, re-assuring image.

Re:Hm... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47280711)

To be fair, the NSA does not have anyone in the organization who can come pay people a visit. That's not what they do. They don't have traditional meat-world spys. They're literally 100% neckbeards and pocket-protectors. There are guards at the door and the leadership is aging military dudes, but that's about it in the physical department.

Re:Hm... (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 3 months ago | (#47281315)

No way, they pay people visits with machine guns when they need to. Didn't you see Sneakers?

Re:Hm... (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 3 months ago | (#47281519)

Clearly people want to be monitored at all times, they just haven't been convinced properly yet.

No, but there will be political hell to pay if there is another 9/11.

Re:Hm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47281701)

best choice is to allow another 9-11 by ignoring the information they
had at that time, and create another (straw man) incident.

jr

But money is fungible (1)

jader3rd (2222716) | about 3 months ago | (#47280575)

I suspect that should this actually happen the NSA will just pull money from something else to fund their protection of honest, hard working Americans. Money is fungible, it moves easily.

Re:But money is fungible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47280673)

Coins have far less trouble with fungi than bills

Re:But money is fungible (2)

myth24601 (893486) | about 3 months ago | (#47281147)

If the law says they can't spend money on a program then they can't spend money on a program right?

Also, isn't there a limit to how agencies can move funding around? If there isn't then why do we fight over weather to fund programs or not, just give them X amount and tell them to spend it how they see fit?

Re:But money is fungible (4, Insightful)

N1AK (864906) | about 3 months ago | (#47281417)

When the law said they couldn't do it in the first place and they did it, what makes you think asking them not to spend money on it would stop them ;)

Re:But money is fungible (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47282327)

Having seen some independent journalism into how the secret programs started, how they were approved, who approved them and the manner in which NSA employees questioned their orders give me some evidence that this will make the situation better. It's easier to be cynical but it's better to try to understand what had happened.

I was deeply upset by what happened, but seeing people in power react to it is a good first step. Let's see what happens before we pass judgment though.

Re:But money is fungible (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47281429)

Since when did the Law matter to this Administration?

Re:But money is fungible (1)

Entropius (188861) | about 3 months ago | (#47281621)

s/this/any/

Re:But money is fungible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47282309)

The law.... kind of like the laws that forbid the whole arms/coke/cash dealing that the CIA pulled when congress told them no?

Re:But money is fungible (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47282341)

Yea but hold on here.

You shitbirds hate the Republicans and just love yourselves some Obama socialism.

You also don't want the NSA to intrude on your "civil liberties" or whatever you are calling this.

And we see the Republicans just barely trying to reign in Obama and the progressives.

But you fucksticks still hate Repiblicans and love Obama right? Is that about it?

Calm down - it's not a real prohibition (5, Informative)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 3 months ago | (#47280579)

From the news:

"he amendment would block the NSA from using any of its funding from this Defense Appropriations Bill to conduct such warrantless searches."

It only covers THIS appropriations bill. They'll just sneak funding into another one to make it up.

You have to pay careful attention to the language these people use.

" In addition, the amendment would prohibit the NSA from using its budget to mandate or request that private companies and organizations add backdoors to the encryption standards that are meant to keep you safe on the web."

So, money that is NOT budgeted, as in part of planned spending, as in slush fund money, is fair game.

Any time an amendment talks about what they cannot use particular money for, as opposed to simply prohibiting the action, it will be full of loopholes.

When there is an amendment that prohibits the ACTION, then we'll have something to be happy about. Nothing in this amendment prohibits the spying.

Re:Calm down - it's not a real prohibition (1)

GeorgeMonroy (784609) | about 3 months ago | (#47280599)

From the news:

"he amendment would block the NSA from using any of its funding from this Defense Appropriations Bill to conduct such warrantless searches."

It only covers THIS appropriations bill. They'll just sneak funding into another one to make it up.

You have to pay careful attention to the language these people use.

" In addition, the amendment would prohibit the NSA from using its budget to mandate or request that private companies and organizations add backdoors to the encryption standards that are meant to keep you safe on the web."

So, money that is NOT budgeted, as in part of planned spending, as in slush fund money, is fair game.

Any time an amendment talks about what they cannot use particular money for, as opposed to simply prohibiting the action, it will be full of loopholes.

When there is an amendment that prohibits the ACTION, then we'll have something to be happy about. Nothing in this amendment prohibits the spying.

i want to mod you up so hard

Re:Calm down - it's not a real prohibition (4, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 3 months ago | (#47280991)

I'd give it an Overratted if had a point to spare.

The Vietnam war didn't end, congress stopped funding it. Putting money into a slush fund doesn't suddenly make it legal to spend it on the defunded activity, just ask the Iran-contra guys. As has already been said the obvious loophole is that it names particular agencies, why coat the obvious with conspiratorial nonsense?

Re:Calm down - it's not a real prohibition (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47281155)

Technically, the Vietnam War didn't START.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaration_of_war_by_the_United_States

The table below lists the five wars in which the United States has formally declared war against eleven foreign nations.
War of 1812
Mexican-American War
Spanish-American War
World War I
World War II

After WWII presidents just stopped asking congress to declare war for them and just 'sent troops'.

Re:Calm down - it's not a real prohibition (2)

kilfarsnar (561956) | about 3 months ago | (#47281179)

I'd give it an Overratted if had a point to spare. The Vietnam war didn't end, congress stopped funding it. Putting money into a slush fund doesn't suddenly make it legal to spend it on the defunded activity, just ask the Iran-contra guys. As has already been said the obvious loophole is that it names particular agencies, why coat the obvious with conspiratorial nonsense?

Because these days it turns out more and more to not be nonsense. I think EmagGeek has a point that the language seems to leave open the possibility of the funding coming from other sources. In the days of secret interpretations of laws, I don't think that should be discounted.

Re:Calm down - it's not a real prohibition (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 3 months ago | (#47282317)

You know why Congress cut off funding to the South Vietnamese? They would be damned if Nixon would have anything positive in his legacy. They betrayed the South Vietnamese while the North still got its full funding from the Soviets. A scant few years later and the North broke the peace treaty and invaded.

Fun fact: which was worse, Richard Nixon's abuse of federal power by ordering a break-in at Democratic Party HQ, or the IRS' abuse of federal power by Lois Lerner and her henchmen? Nixon knew what he did was wrong, was about to get impeached, and had the grace to resign. Does Obama realize that what his people did was wrong?

Re:Calm down - it's not a real prohibition (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47280615)

When there is an amendment that prohibits the ACTION, then we'll have something to be happy about. Nothing in this amendment prohibits the spying.

What? But this must be a real and effective solution! It's a law passed by the Congress, the bastions of accomplishment and productivity in this country.

Re:Calm down - it's not a real prohibition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47280771)

And, then next week we'll see the National Freedom Protection Act.... I'd say I'm being sarcastic but that could easily be the title of it.

Re: Calm down - it's not a real prohibition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47281049)

Does it close ACA? Cause no bill passed by the House can leave that out.

Re:Calm down - it's not a real prohibition (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 3 months ago | (#47280779)

It only covers THIS appropriations bill. They'll just sneak funding into another one to make it up.

That's because new law automagically supersedes old law. And since an appropriations bill is, in fact, a law, next year's appropriations bill will automagically supersede this bill.

Of course, realistically, this bill will go nowhere, since the Senate doesn't seem terribly inclined to rein in the NSA.

Re:Calm down - it's not a real prohibition (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 3 months ago | (#47281001)

That's not exactly clear to me. The voting for this bill seemed to be a combination of almost all the Democrats and a good percentage but not majority of Republicans. That's the kind of thing that would work in the Senate.

The thing about this is that it's the wrong bill. What needs to be done is to pass legislation that actually makes these activities illegal, including evisceration of the Patriot Act and updating of the Electronic Communications Privacy act, and definition of 'devices' such as laptops and cell phones as being covered as 'effects' under the 4th Amendment.

Re:Calm down - it's not a real prohibition (4, Insightful)

cdrudge (68377) | about 3 months ago | (#47281099)

But it's soooo much easier to just not fund it currently. It shows that they demand accountability and to stop spying on Americans...this week. It holds open the possibility to fund it later by slipping it in as part of some larger budget bill. You know, when it's politically more advantageous to "stop terrorism", "save American lives", or "think of the children".

If they make it illegal now, they'd have to go through the hassle of making it legal later, then still have to fund it through another bill.

Re:Calm down - it's not a real prohibition (1)

gewalker (57809) | about 3 months ago | (#47281903)

Congress uses the non-funding approach more than most people realize. The most famous may be the border fence, authorized, but not funded. Things are also chronically underfunded as a way to limit programs.

Re:Calm down - it's not a real prohibition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47282373)

Congress uses the non-funding approach more than most people realize.

Yes, and it's a bad idea to do so for issues like the egregious violation of the highest law of the land and people's fundamental liberties. It would be a better idea for the Supreme Court to declare this nonsense unconstitutional, though I'll bet they'll use things like this as an excuse to not rule anything.

Re:Calm down - it's not a real prohibition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47282347)

What needs to happen is for the supreme court to declare that this is unconstitutional. That precedent will go farther than any normal law could.

Re:Calm down - it's not a real prohibition (5, Insightful)

ZenMonk (1967080) | about 3 months ago | (#47280969)

Bah. Congress can prohibit ACTIONS until they're blue in the face, but those prohibitions rely on an executive branch that is willing to enforce them. This executive in particular has a history of declining to enforce laws that it doesn't like. (Yes, Bush did it too with his "signing statements". Two wrongs don't make a right.)

The true power of Congress is the power of the purse. If they don't want the executive doing something, the surest way to prevent it is to deny them the money to do it. This amendment is about the strongest form of prohibition they can make, short of cutting funding for NSA entirely (which would be pretty stupid).

Agreed it doesn't prevent them from doing it anyway with money from other sources, but then that money can't be used for whatever they were planning to do with it before. At least Congress is trying to do something about it.

Re:Calm down - it's not a real prohibition (1)

gewalker (57809) | about 3 months ago | (#47281967)

First signing statement was by James Monroe. However, the blame for the torrent of signing statements really should fall upon Reagan as he started the frequent usage trend. I think Clinton had the most and Bush-43 was close behind.

Re:Calm down - it's not a real prohibition (1)

Xest (935314) | about 3 months ago | (#47280989)

Agreed, I'd have thought if they actually wanted to stop the NSA doing this sort of thing or be more transparent about it then they'd just shut down the secret courts.

Altering a single budget seems to be a distraction at best.

Re:Calm down - it's not a real prohibition (3, Insightful)

lorenlal (164133) | about 3 months ago | (#47281303)

If they really wanted to shut it down effectively, they'd expire the PATRIOT act. It's a dog and pony vote because it's not actually making the activity illegal.

Another Congressional shell game. (2)

bigpat (158134) | about 3 months ago | (#47281129)

No wonder the approval rating of Congress is so low. They shamefully vote to extend the Patriot Act with 303 votes last month and this month they pass this toothless piece of distraction. This is a political stunt to try and mollify Liberty activists and not anything meaningful. They need to vote against the unconstitutional provisions of the Patriot Act and overturn any provisions that appear to give the government broad authority to force companies to hand over telecommunications data.

Re:Another Congressional shell game. (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 3 months ago | (#47281537)

obama signed all the patriot extentions as well, for the life of me I cant understand why obama is not considered just as low as congress by now

Re:Another Congressional shell game. (1)

bigpat (158134) | about 3 months ago | (#47281715)

Congress as an institution which contains people from around the country that people have never heard of and they didn't vote for. Obama on the other hand a lot of people voted for directly... I agree that Obama's approval ratings should be low since he has flip flopped on some major campaign positions like Obamacare and seems to be supporting some very unpopular policies like warrantless surveilance on Americans that he had previously opposed as a candidate and US Senator.

Re:Calm down - it's not a real prohibition (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 3 months ago | (#47281299)

Not to mention the Senate can weaken the bill, or strengthen it. Which way will they go?

This is a start (1)

stewsters (1406737) | about 3 months ago | (#47280585)

This is good. We should not pay to have our products secretly weakened.

Re:This is a start (1)

bigpat (158134) | about 3 months ago | (#47280983)

It would be good, except that the legislation itself has a backdoor and doesn't actually stop anything.

Re:This is a start (1)

DickBreath (207180) | about 3 months ago | (#47281043)

I strongly agree! We should NOT pay to have our products' security secretly weakened.

The government should do it for free*.

(* just like 'free' public roads, public education, and many other 'free' things from the government)

Pablum For Peons (4, Interesting)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 3 months ago | (#47280605)

It has been known for decades that the CIA has developed sources of income that are automated and unstoppable. Various agents were charged with setting up businesses that paid into the CIA on a regular basis and it was so covert that if the agent and his superior both dropped dead the income continues. For example a car dealership may pay a "supposed loan" back to a bank once a month for 30 years. Even if the business is sold the payments will continue. The agent that set it up need no longer be involved. By repeating this process with investments and covert accounts the budget of the CIA could never be revealed with only the tax dollars known as income. One would imagine the NSA has done something similar. Such projects help to shield new weapons development as the public expenses do not report the excess income and weapons development can continue without foreign scrutiny.

Pablum For Peons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47280823)

Where do you think all those missing bitcoins went?

Re:Pablum For Peons (1)

swb (14022) | about 3 months ago | (#47280905)

I always wondered why the CIA didn't just back a truck up to the bureau of engraving and drive away with 45' semi filled with currency. Or operate their own printing plants.

They probably use a ton of cash in covert operations anyway and @ 12.5 cents per $100 it's a hell of a lot cheaper. Given that M1 is 2.7 trillion and most of this would be spent overseas anyway where it would have little inflationary impact it seems like a cheap way to do dirty business.

Re:Pablum For Peons (1)

alen (225700) | about 3 months ago | (#47281173)

you assume it never happened
for all you know there is a mini money printer at langley

Re:Pablum For Peons (1)

swb (14022) | about 3 months ago | (#47281975)

Doing US currency right from new isn't easy, making an in-house operation at any scale tough to do, although I'm sure there's some kind of in-house counterfeiting operation to do small volumes of foreign currency.

Circumventing accounting at the printing plant would also be tough and risk a lot of exposure.

I'd guess that the easier way to do it is to hijack "old bills" on their way to destruction, now that I think about it, especially if they were destined for overseas use where their worn status would make them more acceptable. Plus they'd be "real" bills with valid SNs.

Re:Pablum For Peons (1)

operagost (62405) | about 3 months ago | (#47282091)

Could be messy if the Secret Service tried to track down a counterfeiting operation and it led them to the CIA's door...

CIA has a history with the illegal drug trade. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47281059)

CIA has a dark history with involvement in the drug trade... both in developing new and refined drugs after World War II as part of its R&D programs in collaboration with former Nazi scientists and in those agents in covert operations becoming involved in the drug trade itself either because they are corrupt or to finance their operations.

Good start (1)

Alex Kruger (3692515) | about 3 months ago | (#47280613)

As the article said, the FBI is missing from this list, and this is only a fix for requiring companies to create back doors. The NSA can, and will, continue to find and exploit unintentional backdoors and security holes. We still need to encrypt everything.

At least the elected still have to listen (4, Insightful)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 3 months ago | (#47280629)

I'm keenly aware this statement by the US House can be circumvented in some fashion. These folks they're dealing with are secret agencies.

At the very least the representatives still have to pay me some lip service. Hell, some of them may have retained the ability to care.

Either way, it's a small victory for the Republic.

Re:At least the elected still have to listen (4, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 3 months ago | (#47280861)

its not a small victory. its the APPEARANCE of one, which is worse, because it will wrongfully quiet down a lot of complainers. which is all its intended to do.

there is 0.000000% chance that we will get our freedoms back, at least peacefully in this v1.0 government style we have created over the centuries. 1.0 worked fine when tech was stone knives and bearskins. now, 1.0 is outdated (and neutered!) and so, whatever our system comes up with, its a lie and its bullshit.

why, people, do you continue to give hope where its not deserved or earned?

Re:At least the elected still have to listen (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | about 3 months ago | (#47281283)

its not a small victory. its the APPEARANCE of one, which is worse, because it will wrongfully quiet down a lot of complainers. which is all its intended to do.

Welcome to the United States of America, where perception is everything and nothing is what it seems.

Re:At least the elected still have to listen (3, Interesting)

DickBreath (207180) | about 3 months ago | (#47281091)

Yes. This can be circumvented. If these people can get around the clear wording of the constitution, then they can do anything.

Black is white. Up is down. Secret courts can issue secret overly broad warrants to secretly spy on everyone all the time. People can be secretly compelled to secretly hand over their secret keys and keep this a secret. People can be compelled to help spy on you and keep this a secret. People can be secretly arrested, and taken to secret prisons. We have secret trials with secret evidence. Defendants are now not even allowed access to the secret evidence against them. I thought I had heard everything when a government official said that their interpretation of the law was secret. (I'm sure they were thinking this keeps the enemy from knowing.)

So yes, these people can go on with business as usual. All they need is a hand waving rationalization to make it all okay.

No (2)

Etherwalk (681268) | about 3 months ago | (#47282245)

I'm keenly aware this statement by the US House can be circumvented in some fashion. These folks they're dealing with are secret agencies.

At the very least the representatives still have to pay me some lip service. Hell, some of them may have retained the ability to care.

Either way, it's a small victory for the Republic.

Forget the lip service. Just forget it. When you get involved in power politics at the level you're talking about, what happens *in the meeting* is what matters, and what you talk about outside the meeting is the window dressing.

Personalities change when you go into the back room. So do goals. People beg, borrow, steal, lie, blackmail, and it's all about what you can do for me, what I can do for you, what we can deliver, how we can ensure goal X gets done, and goal X isn't what we tell the people outside the room.

You're selling a narrative to people outside the room.

Moving money (4, Insightful)

Dishwasha (125561) | about 3 months ago | (#47280657)

I wholeheartedly support this initiative of shifting money from a known three letter entity to a different unknown three letter entity that will now conduct our surveillance state in complete secret.

Re:Moving money (1)

shaitand (626655) | about 3 months ago | (#47280793)

It's not actually the government asshatry that concerns me. I mean it's not cool but it isn't going away... ever. But a government needs a healthy fear of it's citizens and a government that isn't afraid of the rabble is a terrible and frightening thing indeed. So yes, I for one do welcome a return to the government hiding in shadows doing illicit things when opposed to one that feels its citizens are powerless and it can openly do illicit things.

It's people who don't understand that government must fear the common man who support measures to disarm the people.

Re:Moving money (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47280849)

No other three letter agency has the capability. CIA, FBI, and DIA don't have budgets even remotely close to the NSA. The US moved to SIGINT back in the late 90s and put most of the resources there. Hoever, I am not sure how much defunding will help. The infrastructure is already build and operating...this will just make the NSA let go a few contractors and continue operating. They need to pass a bill that dismantles the Patriot Act.

Re:Moving money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47281089)

Umm. . . Actually the CIA's budget is several times larger than the NSA's. It's about $50 billion per year.

Indirect Funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47280663)

So the NSA will be getting its funding for domestic spying and product tampering from the FBI and other agencies instead of from the treasury. Business continues as usual...

toothless legislation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47280693)

Back in 2003 during the Bush administration, Adm. Poindexter tried to sell Total Information Awareness to Congress which ignited a firestorm of opposition and bill which defunded it. Of course, that didn't stop the project's progress. It just meant that its implementation had to occur in chunks paid for under different appropriations bills over time. Same thing is happening here. Congress makes a show for the public, but gives a wink and a nod to the DOD, intelligence communities, and LE signaling that nothing will really change.

Smoke and mirrors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47280725)

The lawmakers who made this bill know slight-of-hand. Sure, de-fund NSA. But fund the FBI and other agencies... Yeah, Americans would not be the wiser.

How will Congress monitor this? (1)

Joe Gillian (3683399) | about 3 months ago | (#47280777)

Here's what I don't get. From what I understand, the NSA is not directly answerable to Congress - they're indirectly answerable through their parent agency, the Department of Defense, but they themselves are not answerable to Congress. What's stopping them from outwardly agreeing to Congress's regulations (assuming they pass) but inwardly ignoring them and continuing to do what they've been doing for years?

Re:How will Congress monitor this? (2)

PRMan (959735) | about 3 months ago | (#47280841)

And LIE to Congress?!? They would NEVER do that...

Re:How will Congress monitor this? (1)

DickBreath (207180) | about 3 months ago | (#47281263)

Why would anyone bother to LIE to Congress when you can just PAY them instead?

Haven't you heard, congress will do anything, and I mean ANYTHING for money. They don't even make much of a pretense of representing the people any more.

Re:How will Congress monitor this? (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | about 3 months ago | (#47281053)

The Department of Defense is supposed to control them. This means that the Department of Defense (that answers to the president of the USA) doesn't object to anything they are doing (since they are required to know what the NSA is doing, ignorance is no excuse). This means the President of the USA approves everything the NSA is doing.

Re:How will Congress monitor this? (1)

fnj (64210) | about 3 months ago | (#47281207)

Here's what I don't get. From what I understand, the NSA is not directly answerable to Congress - they're indirectly answerable through their parent agency, the Department of Defense, but they themselves are not answerable to Congress. What's stopping them from outwardly agreeing to Congress's regulations (assuming they pass) but inwardly ignoring them and continuing to do what they've been doing for years?

Pssst. This is a bill of APPROPRIATIONS. As such, like any other appropriations bill, it does not tell anyone what they may or may not do. It furnishes them money to be used for specified functions and purposes. This particular bill says none of the money being furnished can be used for warrantless surveillance and for programs that force companies to create backdoors in their products.

Appropriations bills are very powerful when used to achieve denial because the Constitution says that they must originate in the House. Other kinds of bills may originate in the Senate, but appropriations bills, no. The House, all of which stands for election every two years, is therefore the most responsive of the branches to the people. If you can't get appropriations for something, you have to resort to the black budget, which is far smaller than the open budget.

Appropriations bills still have to pass the Senate and the White Houise before becoming effective law of the land, but the thing to note about appropriations bills is that they are enabling, not disabling.

If the House chooses to HAVE BALLS in the matter, the rogue administration is screwed trying to fund what the House doesn't want funded. Yeah, the Senate can amend the bill and send it back for reconsideration, but then the House can just give them the finger and say "sorry, denied, no candy, if you want funding at all you can take what we said in the first place, otherwise you're screwed". They could have done this with the ACA and they made a lot of noise that they would do it, but the rogue regime stamped its foot and said it would shut down arbitrarily selected functions of the government until it got its way. Instead of calling them on this tantrum, the House folded like a jellyfish and complied with everything the rogue regime wanted. And they could do so again in this case, but the point is, THEY DO HAVE THE POWER.

If instead the House chose to introduce a bill outright banning the undesired functions from being undertaken, they could certainly do so; the NSA is nominally subject to laws just like everybody else. But the Senate or White House could just outright ignore the bill and let it die, and the bill is stillborn. It could never become law. That is the problem with normal bills that are enabling (in this case, enabling of limits).

What I want.... (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 3 months ago | (#47280927)

Is warrant-less surveillance of the 123 rat bastards who voted against this.

That'll work! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47280939)

That will sure work!
You can't stop the beast, it exists now. It is impossible to kill it without killing everyone else.

If you try cut it, it will go rogue and underground. Spy agency shows are based on reality, it does and has happened before. Many times.
Piss the higher-ups of NSA off, go, enjoy your worse problem with people being blackmailed for money now.

Easily Solved (2)

Greyfox (87712) | about 3 months ago | (#47280951)

I predict a number of congressmen will soon get caught attempting to give handies in airport bathrooms, browsing web sites that cater to people who like to dress up as nuns and have their feet rubbed with dill pickles, or have their bizarre fascination with the genitalia of young goats* revealed. Funding will be restored shortly thereafter.

* You know who you are

Re:Easily Solved (1)

alphatel (1450715) | about 3 months ago | (#47281289)

I predict a number of congressmen will soon get caught attempting to give handies in airport bathrooms...

* You know who you are

You mean someone knows who they are.

Who needs funding? (2)

tompaulco (629533) | about 3 months ago | (#47280971)

Who needs funding when you can just break into a random person's house on the pretense of a drug raid, steal all of their stuff, auction it off, and then later say, "My bad"?

Re:Who needs funding? (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | about 3 months ago | (#47281067)

That's the police. The NSA doesn't do drug raids. Or maybe you mean the CIA, who occasionally sells drugs?

its political posturing. (4, Interesting)

nimbius (983462) | about 3 months ago | (#47281045)

Taking a break from repealing obamacare and re-affirming "in god we trust" on the currency, Its hard to imagine Republicans are doing anything in the interest of their constituents. Republicans under bush authorized and evangelized this warrantless wiretapping. shit, they even passed retroactive immunity for telecom companies forced to do it. And now after 2 terms of sitting on their obstructionist do-nothing arses they've suddenly gotten around to saving america from their monster? Give me a break.

We have to have some form of populist legislation, anything really. We cant have gay marriage, immigration reform, tax reform, campaign finance reform, gun crontrol, climate change policy, or minimum wage because we as the republican party are strapped inexorably to a vocal minority of elderly bible thumpers ginned up on glen beck and sean hannity who have loudly stated, "Moderates arent allowed or we will end you politically." Every issue facing americans is toxic to us so the best we can do is dial down the crazy on a policy we voted for and approved and hope its enough to get us into the whitehouse in 2016. And the sad fact is, no amount of wayback machine legislation is going to help. Once the republican party quietly dropped immigration reform they basically conceded to drop any chance at the presidency.

LMAO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47281083)

You really think these clowns will follow the law? They'll just shift funding from one activity to another and keep it up.

NSA Budget (1)

hackus (159037) | about 3 months ago | (#47281165)

The majority of the NSA budget does not come from the GAO/Congress.

We are way beyond that point by decades. Most of the money comes from Blackmail, Industrial Espionage and drug operations.
(One of the reasons for the seemingly senseless and harsh drug laws is these people really hate competition.)

The NSA and CIA are rogue criminal operations and should be torn down until we repair our governmental authorities with respect to the constitution.

We no longer live in a constitutional republic and are fast approaching the end game.

Patriot Act II? (2)

Bruinwar (1034968) | about 3 months ago | (#47281333)

Are not a lot of these people the same people that helped pass the Patriot Act? So now they are attempting to de-fund the Patriot Act? Did we not debate this right here on slashdot way back when that the Patriot Act would unleash all this surveillance? Why not just pass the Patriot Act II & make it illegal again? Better yet, how about a vote to repeal the Patriot Act?

Wrong bill. (4, Insightful)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 3 months ago | (#47281363)

They should made it illegal for companies to be gagged from making public comment when served with such warrants. They're a violation of the first amendment at the very least.

Freedom of speech. You silence me and make it illegal to even say I was silenced... how is that not a violation?

It's just window dressing (1)

mark_reh (2015546) | about 3 months ago | (#47281739)

as are our elections. Carefully calculated to project an illusion.

Cut NSA's funding for surveillance? How much does it cost the NSA to send letters demanding access and secrecy? What about the cost of maintaining all those servers and huge databases? Chump change. They'll unscrew a few lightbulbs and start stocking the employee restrooms with cheaper toilet paper.

Hold elections every two, four, or six years to elect politicians to run the government? A great way to give the masses the illusion that they are living in an actual democracy!

Wrong Solution. Wrong Problem. (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | about 3 months ago | (#47281743)

US House of Representatives Votes To Cut Funding To NSA

Not sure if this a solution to... what? One can cut to one's heart content, but without structural reforms, the problems that plague NSA will remain there. So, we cut funding, and all we get is to cripple a vital organization that needs to function well, without fixing the things that makes it not function well. Funding is not the root cause. It is not a monetary problem, but a political one.

Not to worry ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 3 months ago | (#47282219)

I'm sure the NSA et al have shell corporations in order to fund all the stuff they won't admit to doing.

And I'm sure the dragnet of surveillance allows them to do some pretty lucrative insider trading.

The shadow government will be well funded, and will just go further underground and it will be business as usual, and the politicians get to keep acting like they're in charge.

You know, it's pretty sad when you more or less have to assume all of the tropes from movies are actually happening. Increasingly it feels like you couldn't possibly be paranoid enough.

Just a note (2)

whistlingtony (691548) | about 3 months ago | (#47282447)

Ok, ignoring all the armchair generals who are saying How It Should Be...

This is a good thing. It's not the RIGHT thing. Ahem. "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized" Frankly, warrantless wiretapping IS illegal, per the US Constitution.

I don't blame the government. I blame us. There's less than 50% voter turnout. People ramble about the ammo box, but we haven't even TRIED the ballot box yet, and apparently we can't be bothered to. This is OUR fault.

That the House of Reps actually did this is an amazing step in the right direction. Everyone whines that it's not enough, but you NEVER get what you want in one go. It's always a slow series of steps. It's a continual fight.

Anyway, just a note... Dems: 158 yes, 29 no. Repubs: 135 yes, 94 no. Many more Dems voted for this. Think on that next time someone (possibly you) trots out how much Dems love big government and spending, and hate freedom. Sigh... The really sad thing is that there are no Independant votes on this, because there are no Independant reps, because you bastards can't be bothered to vote. :(

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