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Look Who's Talking: Republicans Denounce NSA Spying

In reversal of Bush-era politics, RNC urges Congressional GOP to overhaul Patriot Act

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus speaks at the annual RNC winter meeting in Washington. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)Denunciations of the National Security Agency are officially coming from all corners now as leaders of the Republican party passed a resolution Friday calling for an investigation into the “gross infringement” of Americans’ rights.

The resolution calls the vast dragnet operations, namely the collection of phone data records, "an invasion into the personal lives of American citizens that violates the right of free speech and association afforded by the First Amendment" and is "contrary to the right of privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment."

The measure, the "Resolution to Renounce the National Security Agency’s Surveillance Program," passed by an “overwhelming majority," according to Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Reince Priebus, as party leaders took a voice vote on a package of RNC proposals.

"Not a single member rose to object or call for further debate, as occurred for other resolutions," MSNBC reports.

The resolution calls on on Republican members of Congress to enact amendments to Section 215 of the Patriot Act that currently allows the spy agency to collect records of almost every domestic telephone call, reports Time Magazine, which published an exclusive story on the resolution.

"This is, to put it mildly, a new position for the Republican National Committee," MSNBC continues. "When the New York Times revealed that the NSA had wiretapped American citizens without warrants in late 2005, the RNC used their 2006 winter meeting to strongly defend the program’s national security value."

Following the spying revelations, made public by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, many have accused members of the Democratic party of playing party politics and defending surveillance activities conducted under President Obama.

"The language is far tougher than anything to have emerged from either party's establishment before," the Guardian's Dan Roberts reports. Roberts spoke to one senior GOP official who "cautioned against reading too much into the 'symbolic' vote."

Roberts continues: 

Nevertheless, others at the conference said the vote did reflect mainstream thinking in the party.

“I think that the committee's resolution this morning was about reflecting where it thinks sentiment lies,” the RNC deputy press secretary, Raffi Williams, told the Guardian.

“It wasn't done in an attempt to attract one part of the demographic but to reflect what the Republican party believes.” 

"There appears to be very little daylight between the RNC and progressive challengers of the phone records program, such as the ACLU," Stephen Vladeck, a professor of law at American University, told MSNBC in an email.

The full text is available here.

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