Congressman Charles Boustany Says He Did Not Want To “Weaken” NSA Program In U.S. House Vote (Audio)
Wednesday night, a bipartisan effort that was brought about to scale back the National Security Agency's controversial surveillance program failed in a close 217-205 vote. Among the no votes was Lafayette's own, Congressman Charles Boustany. He was a guest on "Your Afternoon Drive Home," hosted by Brandon Comeaux and Nathan Pike, to explain his vote.
"The NSA program is targeted at foreign nationals, not U.S. citizens," says Boustany. "And the program cannot access any personal data on U.S. citizens (and he pointed out lawmakers as well) without an explicit court order. So, all citizens are protected under the Fourth Amendment and under statutory law in this program. That's why I opposed the amendment (the Amash Amendment) because I thought if this amendment passed it would basically halt this program and be a real threat to our national security."
Boustany says he understands the concerns about the NSA, but he doesn't believe this amendment was the best way to handle those concerns. "This amendment came up during what's called the Appropriations Process...and to make major changes to a program like that should not be done in the context of an Appropriations Bill," says Boustany. "It should be done in the context of the bill that gives authority for the program, which would be the Intelligence Authorization Bill, which is coming up." He says the leadership in the U.S. House tried to convince Rep. Amash that this would be the appropriate venue to offer amendments so that they could have a more thorough debate on this, instead of "just a 20 minute debate, which is insufficient."
"I think there's a lot of misinformation out there," says Boustany. "And I've heard members of Congress actually quoted as giving misinformation about this program. That's why I've spent a lot time studying it and speaking with people throughout our government, both in the military and our intelligence community, as well as other members of Congress, to fully understand the program."
Boustany says the U.S. government has stopped 54 terrorist threats, serious terrorist threats, using this program. "These threats would have caused serious damage, loss of life in the United States," says Boustany. "So, it's an important program and we did not want to weaken it."
During the interview, Congressman Boustany was then asked if he was concerned that by voting against this bill if he was allowing for future administrations, or even this current administration and the abuse of power scandals that have been associated with them, to further an abuse of power to a level we have only seen in socialist or communist countries. "There's always a risk for abuse of power in any system of government, even in our system of government," says Boustany. "And so, it's very important to provide low oversight to make sure that that kind of abuse does not occur. With regards to this specific program, this was obviously a major concern I have, and I share that concern with so many of our citizens across the country."
Boustany then went on to say that under this program, there has not been a single American citizen who has come forth with a claim that's successfully been shown that their civil liberties have been violated.
We have to make sure we protect the Constitution, protect our liberty and civil liberties and our privacy, but at the same time protect national security. And I believe the program is structured with proper protections to achieve both.
To listen to the complete interview with Congressman Charles Boustany, including his response to questions about his conservatism, CLICK BELOW: