RNC condemns NSA surveillance

The Republican National Committee has formally renounced the “dragnet” surveillance program at the National Security Agency (NSA).

During its winter meeting in Washington, the committee on Friday overwhelmingly approved a measure calling for lawmakers to end the program and create a special committee to investigate domestic surveillance efforts.

The resolution, which declared that “unwarranted government surveillance is an intrusion on basic human rights,” among other condemnations, passed the committee on a voice vote with near-unanimous support. Only a small minority of the 168 RNC members dissented.

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The committee criticized the government’s bulk collection of records about all phone calls, which emerged as one of the most controversial programs revealed in leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. That NSA effort “is in itself contrary to the right of privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution,” the RNC said in the resolution.

The RNC also called the NSA’s classified “PRISM” program, which mines data from the servers of major Internet companies, “the largest surveillance effort ever launched by a democratic government against its own citizens.”

The resolution called for Republican lawmakers to create a new panel “to investigate, report, and reveal to the public the extent of this domestic spying” and to develop recommendations to end “unconstitutional surveillance” and hold officials responsible for the snooping “accountable.”

The RNC position represents an increasingly libertarian turn for the GOP.

Republican lawmakers like Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and James Sensenbrenner (Wis.) have repeatedly joined left-wing Democrats to call for the NSA’s programs to be reformed. Hawks in both parties have resisted the calls and warned that reining in the NSA could make it harder to protect the country against terrorist attacks.