12:38 PM EDT

Lamar S. Smith, R-TX 21st

Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 2 minutes.

Mr. Speaker, the Democratic leadership calls the RESTORE Act of 2007 a compromise. Well, I agree. It compromises our national security.

Why do Democrats want to make it more difficult to gather intelligence [Page: H11664]

about terrorists after 9/11 than before Ð9/11? Since the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was enacted 30 years ago, our terrorist fighting agencies have been able to gather information about terrorists without obtaining a court order. Why burden our intelligence agencies now? Why make it harder to find Osama bin Laden? Why protect terrorists?

This bill, for the first time, requires a court order to monitor foreign persons outside the United States. If Osama bin Laden makes a call and we don't know who it is to, a court order must be obtained. That takes many hours and could well mean we miss an opportunity to stop an attack.

The bill omits liability protection for telephone companies that provided the Federal Government with critical information after 9/11. These companies deserve our thanks, not a flurry of frivolous lawsuits.

The bill sunsets in 4 years, yet our agencies need certainty and permanence so they can develop new procedures and train employees.

Mr. Speaker, we don't need the RESTORE Act. We do need to restore the ability of the Federal Government to gather information about terrorists and to stop them.

Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the minority whip, the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Blunt).

12:39 PM EDT

Roy Blunt, R-MO 7th

Mr. BLUNT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, the law in place today, the law that we brought up to today's technical standards in August, is essentially the law that the Congress passed in 1978, a Congress that had a majority of Democrats in it. Jimmy Carter, President Carter, signed that bill, and it has worked for 30 years now.

The way this bill is drafted, the administration would be forced to seek warrants, as Mr. Smith just said, for foreign targets in case they might call the United States. If Osama bin Laden calls the United States, we should know it. If Osama bin Laden calls and it turns out to be a call that didn't matter, there are ways to minimize that. In all likelihood, if Osama bin Laden called, it shouldn't be a matter that we shouldn't know about. If he calls to order a pizza and says ``deliver

the pizza to cave 56 in Bora Bora,'' that is something we ought to know at that minute. We should not have to go to court to monitor these calls, just in case they call somebody in the United States.

Granting what in essence is de facto fourth amendment constitutional rights to noncitizens who are not in this country makes no sense at all. It is not the right direction. We need a permanent fix.

This bill does not contain, as my good friend Mr. Conyers said, retroactive liability. We need to have liability for those companies that stepped up after 9/11 and immediately helped the country begin to monitor the things we needed to monitor. We still don't clarify in this bill what our intelligence agencies do.

This does not solve any problems. It creates problems. When you have a system that has worked in one way, and effectively, for 30 years, there is no reason to change that system. This bill makes needless, dangerous changes.

I hope we vote ``no'' on this bill today, and get down, as we did in late July, to the reality of what we have to do to defend the country.

12:42 PM EDT

Silvestre Reyes, D-TX 16th

Mr. REYES. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, 6 years after the tragic attacks of 9/11, Osama bin Laden remains at large. The minority whip may make light about ordering pizza, but the reality is we still haven't gotten Osama bin Laden and America faces a continuing threat from al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

Just this week, Admiral Scott Redd, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said that the Iraq war has created a giant recruiting tool for al Qaeda. When asked if we are safer as a result of our invasion of Iraq, Admiral Redd said, ``Tactically, probably not.''

Mindful of this threat, our committees have drafted the RESTORE Act. I wish to thank Chairman Conyers and members of both committees for their great work in drafting this legislation. The RESTORE Act arms our intelligence community with powerful new authorities to conduct electronic surveillance of terrorist targets around the world, but it also restores essential constitutional protections for Americans that were sharply eroded when the President signed the Protect America Act, or PAA,

last August.

Some on the other side want to extend the PAA permanently. That would be a huge mistake. According to expert testimony we have received in our committee, the PAA authorizes warrantless domestic searches of Americans' homes, mail, computers and medical records, as the chairman of the Judiciary Committee observed earlier.

Although we don't have any information at this time that the Bush administration is using this authority in this way, we must guard against the possibility of abuse in the future. Our committee heard testimony that the PAA even allows spying without probable cause on our own soldiers deployed overseas talking to their families back home. That, Mr. Speaker, is wrong.

The RESTORE Act helps restore the balance between security and liberty. The RESTORE Act puts the FISA Court back in the business of protecting Americans' constitutional rights, after the President and Vice President put the court out of business 6 years ago.

Some will try to portray this bill as extending rights to terrorists. We have heard that this morning. That is absolutely false. This bill does not require individual warrants for terrorists such as Osama bin Laden. The bill does not extend fourth amendment rights to foreigners.

What the RESTORE Act does is allow ``block surveillance'' of terrorists overseas with speed and agility. And we will never go dark, because the bill includes an emergency provision that allows surveillance to continue for 45 days, even before the court approves the procedures to protect Americans.

This legislation will restore accountability and oversight in all three branches. It restores regular audits and reports by the Department of Justice, which will be reviewed by the Congress. It also requires an audit of the President's Domestic Surveillance Program and other warrantless surveillance programs.

Perhaps most importantly, it ensures that when an American is the target of surveillance, an individualized warrant is required.

Some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle prefer an approach that would allow the administration to police itself. This simply is unacceptable. If we have learned anything from the past 6 years, it is that unchecked executive power is a recipe for abuse and it has not made us safer.

[Time: 12:45]

Mr. Speaker, I have served my country as a soldier in combat in Vietnam, as a law enforcement professional on our southern border, and as a Member of Congress for the past decade. I have seen the great strength of our country; and in my view, the source of that great strength is our Constitution. The RESTORE Act provides tools to keep this Nation safe and upholds our Constitution and our laws. So I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on the RESTORE Act.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

12:46 PM EDT

Lamar S. Smith, R-TX 21st

Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the former chairman and current ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee, the gentleman from New York (Mr. King).

12:46 PM EDT

Lamar S. Smith, R-TX 21st

Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the former chairman and current ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee, the gentleman from New York (Mr. King).

12:46 PM EDT

Peter "Pete" King, R-NY 3rd

Mr. KING of New York. I thank the ranking member for yielding and, Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, the United States has been at war with Islamic terrorism since September 11, 2001. This is a war which threatens our survival as a civilization, and it is a war where it is essential that we maximize the use of electronic surveillance which is one of the strongest weapons in our arsenal. It is a weapon which should not be trivialized, nor should the struggle be trivialized by using such terms as ``spying'' and ``snooping.''

It is important we keep in mind who the real enemy is. The real enemy is al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism, not the men and women of our own government who are working so hard to protect us.

Mr. Speaker, the Protect America Act, which was passed less than 3 months ago, updated FISA and struck the appropriate balance between protecting our citizens from terrorist attacks and protecting our civil liberties. [Page: H11665]

Tragically, today's bill, the RESTORE Act, marks an undeniable retreat in the war against Islamic terrorism. It limits the type of foreign intelligence information that may be acquired and actually gives foreign targets more protections

than Americans get in criminal cases here at home.

By sunsetting this legislation in 2 years, the RESTORE Act fails to provide permanency and guidance to the intelligence community. The RESTORE Act also fails to provide legal protection and immunity to those American companies who answered the call of this administration and also answered the call of an administration which believed that this policy was legal, and not only this administration, but high-ranking officials from previous administrations, Democrat and Republican, who believed that

these policies were legal and constitutional. There was no personal gain for these companies. To allow them to be subjected to lawsuits for answering the Nation's call in time of great peril is mean-spirited, vindictive and shortsighted.

Mr. Speaker, I strongly urge defeat of this misguided legislation.

12:49 PM EDT

Bobby Scott, D-VA 3rd

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding and appreciate his leadership in efforts to address warrantless surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, and for introducing a bill that corrects many of the shortcomings of the bill that passed the House last August.

The RESTORE Act establishes a strong framework, much stronger than the administration's bill, to fight terrorism effectively, while providing reasonable safeguards to protect personal privacy. There are several important clarifications made in the bill.

One important change draws the appropriate distinctions based on physical location and types of targets. There has never been any controversy over the fact that surveillance directed at people, all of whom are overseas, you don't need a warrant in that situation.

The second is that the bill removes vague and overbroad language in the bill that passed last August that would allow wiretapping of conversations without a warrant if the communication was concerning a foreign target. That by its own wording suggests that if two citizens are in the United States talking about someone overseas, you could wiretap their communications without a warrant. The bill before us makes it clear that the persons involved in the conversation must be overseas, not just that

the subject of the conversation must be overseas.

Third, the RESTORE Act goes a step further than the administration's bill and only allows expanded wiretapping authority in cases involving foreign intelligence unless it relates specifically to national security, as opposed to the overexpansive nature of foreign intelligence. Foreign intelligence can include anything, a trade deal or anything of general foreign affairs activities. If you are talking about national security, let's talk about national security.

Finally, the RESTORE Act was made even stronger in the committee by requiring the Department of Justice in its application to the court to specify the primary purpose of the wiretapping. Under FISA, when an agent wanted to obtain a warrant, he had to certify the purpose of the wiretap. The standard was altered in the PATRIOT Act which says it only has to be a significant purpose.

We have to put this change in context because the Department of Justice has not credibly refuted the allegations that some U.S. Attorneys were fired because they failed to indict Democrats in time to affect an upcoming election. So if the Department of Justice wiretapped someone when foreign intelligence is not the primary purpose, you have to wonder what the primary purpose is. This bill would require the administration to reveal the true purpose of the wiretap.

Mr. Speaker, in the fight against terrorism, we do not have to sacrifice constitutional protections or trust this administration to secretly protect the rights of Americans without public accountability. It is important to note that everything that the administration can do in its own bill it can do under this bill. We just require them to get a warrant before they do it or get a warrant after they do it if they are in a hurry, but they can wiretap and get the information. We just provide a little

modicum of oversight to ensure that the laws are being obeyed.

12:52 PM EDT

Lamar S. Smith, R-TX 21st

Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Forbes), the ranking member of the Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee.

12:55 PM EDT

Leonard L. Boswell, D-IA 3rd

Mr. BOSWELL. Mr. Speaker, first I support this bill. It is a good bill, and it protects the Constitution.

I would like to speak principally to my colleagues who, like me, are concerned about what the bill does and the fact that it does not address fully the issue of carrier liability. As you know, the administration and telecommunication companies have requested that we provide them with immunity from lawsuits or prosecutions arising out of information and assistance they may have provided to the intelligence community.

Now, we don't precisely know what information they have provided. We don't know what they were told by the administration about the legality of what they were doing. I hope and believe those companies acted in good faith with patriotism. They were trying to do their part for national security, and I think they deserve our appreciation. I take seriously their concerns that they might be subject to liability.

That being said, I don't believe it should be the responsibility of the telecommunications companies to prove that they provided the information in a legal way if the Federal Government fails to meet the burden of proof that the demand or request for information is brought forth in a legal manner. If that burden of proof is not met, it should be the government that should be held primarily accountable.

I believe that eventually we should be able to take care of any company who acted in good faith and cooperated in the name of protecting our Nation. [Page: H11666]

No one who acted out of good faith with a desire to protect America should be punished. But we must know what brought forth their action, and under what circumstances, and what pressure, if any, they acted. As this process moves forward, I expect to get more information from the administration on their

generation of the demands or requests for information. Support the bill.

12:56 PM EDT

Lamar S. Smith, R-TX 21st

Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to my colleague and the former district judge from Texas (Mr. Gohmert), who is also the deputy ranking member of the Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee.

12:57 PM EDT

Louie Gohmert Jr., R-TX 1st

Mr. GOHMERT. I thank the ranking member.

I appreciate Chairman Reyes' service to this country. I believe people on the other side of the aisle mean well when they say they want to protect the Constitution. The problem is this extends the Constitution beyond America to our enemies on foreign soil who cut off heads of Americans. That's just the way it is. It does that.

Now, we keep hearing across the aisle: This has nothing to do with foreign-to-foreign calls; it has nothing to do with foreign terrorists on foreign soil calling foreign terrorists, and it says that in the bill. You don't have to worry about that. You don't need a warrant for that.

The trouble is there is no conceivable time that an honest intelligence gatherer overseas can swear that a foreign terrorist that he wants to surveil will never under any circumstances call the United States. Since he can't swear to that and since there is a chance, especially since this law is public and the terrorists will know all they need to do is call America, order flowers, call time and temperature, they have made a call on American soil and they come within the requirement of getting

a court order. It is very clear.

This doesn't extend the Constitution in a way that it should be on American soil. It protects enemies. I know people on the other side, you just want to protect civil liberties, but what scares me is what will happen when a terrorist attack in the nature of 9/11 comes again. People will rush to take away civil liberties, and people will voluntarily give up civil liberties for protection, liberties that were so hard fought.

So for those who are really going to be protected, I don't understand the concern. This is going to protect also Americans who get calls from foreign terrorists on foreign soil. That is what this is really going to do.

I don't think it is too much in the interest of America, tell your American friends to tell their terrorist friends on foreign soil, don't call me, use some other means of communication.

12:59 PM EDT

Jane Harman, D-CA 36th

Ms. HARMAN. Mr. Speaker, I thank Chairman Conyers for yielding to me and commend him, Chairman Reyes, and others for their work on this bill.

Though I no longer serve on the Intelligence Committee, I have followed this issue with intense interest. This bill contains many provisions that I and others authored over recent years. It is a strong bill and I strongly support it.

It amends FISA to permit more speed and agility in the effort to conduct surveillance of those who would do us harm, but it also provides more resources in a court-approved framework to assure that the constitutional rights of Americans are protected.

I continue to follow the intelligence in my role as Chair of the Homeland Security Intelligence Subcommittee, and threats against our homeland are real. Westerners are training in al Qaeda camps in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Europe, especially Britain, may experience more attacks. Plots have recently been foiled in Denmark and Germany. We helped Britain disrupt the so-called ``liquid bomb plot'' in August of 2006, a plot that could have killed more Americans than were killed on 9/11 as they

flew on U.S.-bound airlines from England.

Mr. Speaker, all Members want to protect America. All Members want to protect America. So it deeply saddens me that this is yet another partisan debate. It could have been otherwise.

For several weeks, Pete Hoekstra, who chaired the Intelligence Committee when I was privileged to serve as ranking member, and I tried to fashion a bipartisan bill. Our list of principles could, I believe, have garnered broad support in both caucuses and led to a veto-proof majority in this House.

Americans want Congress on a bipartisan basis to assure we disrupt plots to harm us and protect our Constitution. We could do both and we must do both. This is a strong bill. It does both. Vote ``aye.''

12:59 PM EDT

Jane Harman, D-CA 36th

Ms. HARMAN. Mr. Speaker, I thank Chairman Conyers for yielding to me and commend him, Chairman Reyes, and others for their work on this bill.

Though I no longer serve on the Intelligence Committee, I have followed this issue with intense interest. This bill contains many provisions that I and others authored over recent years. It is a strong bill and I strongly support it.

It amends FISA to permit more speed and agility in the effort to conduct surveillance of those who would do us harm, but it also provides more resources in a court-approved framework to assure that the constitutional rights of Americans are protected.

I continue to follow the intelligence in my role as Chair of the Homeland Security Intelligence Subcommittee, and threats against our homeland are real. Westerners are training in al Qaeda camps in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Europe, especially Britain, may experience more attacks. Plots have recently been foiled in Denmark and Germany. We helped Britain disrupt the so-called ``liquid bomb plot'' in August of 2006, a plot that could have killed more Americans than were killed on 9/11 as they

flew on U.S.-bound airlines from England.

Mr. Speaker, all Members want to protect America. All Members want to protect America. So it deeply saddens me that this is yet another partisan debate. It could have been otherwise.

For several weeks, Pete Hoekstra, who chaired the Intelligence Committee when I was privileged to serve as ranking member, and I tried to fashion a bipartisan bill. Our list of principles could, I believe, have garnered broad support in both caucuses and led to a veto-proof majority in this House.

Americans want Congress on a bipartisan basis to assure we disrupt plots to harm us and protect our Constitution. We could do both and we must do both. This is a strong bill. It does both. Vote ``aye.''