The RNC has passed a resolution relating to NSA surveillance which outlines the following encouragements:
RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee encourages Republican lawmakers to enact legislation to amend Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, the state secrets privilege, and the FISA Amendments Act to make it clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity, phone records and correspondence — electronic, physical, and otherwise — of any person residing in the U.S. is prohibited by law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court;
RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee encourages Republican lawmakers to call for a special committee to investigate, report, and reveal to the public the extent of this domestic spying and the committee should create specific recommendations for legal and regulatory reform ot end unconstitutional surveillance as well as hold accountable those public officials who are found to be responsible for this unconstitutional surveillance; and
RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee encourages Republican lawmakers to immediately take action to halt current unconstitutional surveillance programs and provide a full public accounting of the NSA's data collection programs.
According to MSNBC, "Not a single member rose to object or call for further debate, as occurred for other resolutions."
The news comes a day after the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board released its report on the NSA's collection of telephone data. Three of the five members of the board said that the NSA's telephone data collection program is illegal. The report's executive summary states that the program has also not helped prevent any terrorist attacks:
Based on the information provided to the Board, including classified briefings and documentation, we have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation. Moreover, we are aware of no instance in which the program directly contributed to the discovery of a previously unknown terrorist plot or the disruption of a terrorist attack.
Earlier this week, I wrote about a recent Pew/USA Today poll that highlighted, among other things, that the GOP is divided when it comes to the NSA. Among those who consider themselves Republican or Republican-leaning and associate with the Tea Party 68 percent disapprove of the NSA's collection of phone and Internet data. Among those who consider themselves Republic or Republican-leaning but not party of the Tea Party the collection has 52 percent disapproval.
While it is good to see the RNC passing a resolution condemning the NSA's outrageous behavior, some Republican legislators in Washington, D.C. are strong defenders of the NSA's data collection. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) are among the most prominent Republican supporters of the NSA's activities. King has gone so far as to say that the NSA should spy on members of Congress, and has said that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), one of the Republican lawmakers who has been critical of the NSA, is either "totally uninformed" or part of the so-called "hate America crowd."
MSNBC notes that the passing of the RNC's resolution "is a sign of the increasing influence of the libertarian wing of the party, especially supporters of Ron Paul and his son, Rand Paul, who have made government overreach in pursuit of terrorists a top issue."