As scrutiny of NSA continues, Grimes not ready to say whether spying program should be defunded

11/05/2013 10:26 PM

In the last two weeks, Google executives , the chancellor of Germany and even a defense hawk like Sen. John McCain have criticized the National Security Agency for aggressive surveillance of American communications and world leaders’ phones.

But Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes on Tuesday wouldn’t commit to whether those programs within the NSA should be defunded.

“We all want to make sure the U.S. is protected … but it is a fine balance that we are currently walking,” she said. She ignored multiple follow-up questions about how she believes that balance should be struck.

NSA spying programs have collected phone and email data of American citizens and, according to the Washington Post, also tapped into data centers run by search engine giants Google and Yahoo, fueling the criticism and distrust on Capitol Hill.

In the U.S. House, congressmen are preparing for another vote on a measure to defund the surveillance program that collects communications data of Americans. An amendment offered by Michigan Congressman Justin Amash failed by a handful of votes over the summer.

But congressmen on both sides of the aisle who supported the measure — including Republican U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky’s 4th District in Northern Kentucky and Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville — say they expect the proposal will pass next time.

Here’s what Massie and Republican Reps. Andy Barr of Lexington and Ed Whitfield of Hopkinsville had to say about the NSA in interviews two weeks ago:

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He has covered politics for more than 10 years, including 7 years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Follow Ryan on Twitter @cn2Alessi. Ryan can be reached at 502-792-1135 or


  • James wrote on November 06, 2013 06:24 AM :

    Alison has to check in with Barack “if you like your health care plan you can keep it, period” Obama and see what he wants her to do.

  • Cumberland Gap wrote on November 06, 2013 09:25 AM :

    When an “American”, someone living here, brings down the next airplane, building, or power plant, this same group of people will be calling for the NSA to help find them and wonder why they didn’t have any data on them or failed to stop them. Let’s be careful about trying to stop a spy agency from spying.

  • Bruce Layne wrote on November 06, 2013 10:35 AM :

    Once again, Alison doesn’t know. I appreciate it when a candidate honestly says, “I don’t know. I need to research this issue before making any policy recommendations.” After all, candidates are people and we can’t know everything. However, when most answers are non-answers and a candidate needs to take a poll to see what people want to hear, or worse, needs to check with handlers to see how they want her to represent THEIR interests, then we need to have some healthy skepticism of that candidate.

    “I don’t know” is a good answer, as long as it’s not your standard answer to anything that’s not on your crib notes.

    Pssst…. Hey Alison…. A government that’s routinely spying on all of its citizens is dangerously out of control and well down the road to tyranny.

  • Bruce Layne wrote on November 06, 2013 10:58 AM :

    I live a bit south of Thomas Massie’s district, but Thomas Massie is MY representative in the US House of Representatives! Thank you Thomas!

    Andy Barr seems to be recognizing the American citizens’ anger, frustration and resentment of illegal NSA spying but wants to offer us platitudes. He’s not willing to do anything meaningful to prevent the illegal spying. He wants to maybe pass another bill to provide guidance to the secretive and unchecked power of the NSA that is already in blatant violation of our Constitution. The NSA is even in violation of the FISA Act which granted unconstitutional spying powers to the federal government. They’re operating with no supervision or regulation. They can do whatever they like, and when they’re caught engaged in obviously illegal spying, there are no consequences. That’s what Andy Barr is endorsing when he tells us that he wants to pass another unenforceable resolution masquerading as a law that the NSA will also ignore.

    Ed Whitfield’s hollow reassurances that say nothing sound almost identical to Alison Lundergan Grimes on this issue. Hmmmmm….

  • Cat Balz wrote on November 06, 2013 11:43 AM :

    Right now, I’m far more interested in what Senator McConnell thinks about this issue. As for Senator McCain, who cares what that worthless old crank thinks about anything anymore?

  • Rural Observer wrote on November 06, 2013 02:22 PM :

    Does Allison Lundergan Grimes have a position on anything? She surely is studying a lot of issues – perhaps she will appoint a blue-ribbon task force on each issue to be studied and to advise her on where to stand and vote should she be elected. Could it be that she’s waiting for the Hollywood-crowd of extreme liberals to tell her how to vote? And there’s the anti-coal crowd in California that is helping fund her campaign – and she is going to stand up to the current President and administration who are clearly anti-coal? I don’t think so.

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