Nashville Democrat Jim Cooper voted against new restrictions on the National Security Agency’s collection of phone records and other sensitive data. It’s a vote that puts him at odds with every other member of Tennessee’s congressional delegation.
Congress narrowly voted down the restrictions, 205 to 217. They would’ve required the NSA to identify that someone is under investigation before collecting personal data. Cooper justified his stance in favor of the NSA data collection programs, saying they’ve been ruled constitutional by every judge who’s reviewed them.
Cooper also noted he’s the only Tennessean serving on the House Armed Services Committee and that “it would be a mistake to let Edward Snowden’s leaks weaken our defenses.” The rest Tennessee’s representatives in Congress, one Democrat and seven Republicans, voted in favor of putting restrictions on NSA surveillance.
Brentwood GOP Congressman Marsha Blackburn discussed the vote during an appearance on C-SPAN this morning. “We know that the data mining has been a very useful tool to the intel units out in the theater of war. We fully understand that. And we just have the fortitude to say ‘let’s review this,” she said.
Blackburn also wants to know who in the intelligence community has access to personal information, and how the data collection process works. Congress is likely to vote again on curtailing NSA surveillance in the coming months.