In which, Rep. Rice plays to my vanity

I know it is boring, but it is my policy to publicly post any correspondence I receive from one of my elected representatives, especially the form letters. This one is from Representative Tom Rice, who represents those of us living in South Carolina’s House District 7, on the topic of NSA domestic spying.

In addition to voting the way I wanted him to on HR4870 to stop funding for certain NSA surveillance programs, Representative Rice called me “Dr. Witten”. No one ever calls me “Dr. Witten”, including most of my students.

Dear Dr. Witten:

Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns regarding H.R. 4870, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2015. I appreciate you taking the time to share your views with me, and I apologize for the delay in my response.

This is an important issue, and I have heard from many constituents who feel the same way as you do. Recent disclosures of the extent of government spying, both on our allies and American citizens are shocking and disturbing. It is now undisputed that the NSA has gathered our telephone records and emails for years (although they say blanket email gathering has now been discontinued). Everyone recognizes that in order to protect our national security, we must watch our enemies. Leaders at the NSA tell us that their surveillance activities have foiled over 50 acts of terrorism in recent years. However, we must strike a reasonable balance between measures necessary to protect our national security interests on the one hand, and our constitutionally guaranteed right to privacy on the other. I believe that the current level of surveillance goes too far. We must do more to protect the privacy of Americans.

As you may know, Representative Massie (R-KY) introduced an amendment to H.R. 4870 which prohibits funds from being used to fully exploit lawfully collected foreign intelligence information collected under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. I was proud to vote in favor of this amendment, which the House of Representatives passed on June 19, 2014. H.R. 4870 passed the House and now awaits a vote in the Senate. As the United States House of Representatives continues to protect our citizens’ privacy , I will keep your thoughts in mind. While there are many Members of Congress with different backgrounds and constituencies, please know that I will fight to represent your interests and those of the Seventh Congressional District of South Carolina.

For up-to-date information about where I stand on some of the most pressing issues facing South Carolinians and the nation today, please visit my website- From there, you will be able to sign up for my e-mail newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages, all of which will provide you with regular updates on what I am doing in Washington, D.C. to better the Seventh District.

I understand your time is valuable, and I thank you for reaching out to me. It is an honor to represent the Pee Dee and Grand Strand, and if I may be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Tom Rice
Member of Congress

Author: Josh Witten

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