6:49 PM EST

Rush Holt, D-NJ 12th

Mr. HOLT. I thank my friend and colleague from Texas.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this bill. As many of you know, when the committee reported this bill to the floor, I expressed concerns that it [Page: H14050]

lacked provisions ensuring that the courts would decide whether the executive branch could seize and search communications of Americans.

The RESTORE Act now before us includes provisions via the manager's amendment that will ensure that it is the courts, not an executive branch political appointee, who decides whether or not the communications of an American can be seized and searched and that such seizures and searches must be done pursuant to an individualized court order.

This bill gives our citizens the best protection we can provide them, a sound intelligence collection that will foil our enemies and the review of the executive branch's surveillance actions by the court. In other words, each of us can say to each of our constituents: you have the protection of the court.

Now, it is important to note that this bill will provide better intelligence than existing law, the existing law which was passed in haste and fear. This bill, by applying checks and balances, improves intelligence collection and analysis. It has been demonstrated that when officials establish before a court that they have reason to intercept communications, we get better intelligence, better intelligence than we get through indiscriminate collection and fishing expeditions.

Mr. Speaker, this does it right. Mr. Speaker, I would like to close by thanking the staff of the committee, Jeremy Bash and Eric Greenwald; and from the Judiciary Committee, Lou DeBaca and Burt Wides; as well as the chairmen, Mr. Reyes and Mr. Conyers, who took my concerns to heart and made them their own concerns. It has produced a good bill. I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' for the RESTORE Act.

6:51 PM EST

Lamar S. Smith, R-TX 21st

Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I am happy to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Blunt), the distinguished minority whip of the House.

6:51 PM EST

Roy Blunt, R-MO 7th

Mr. BLUNT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding and for his hard work on the floor this evening, for the leadership of Mr. Hoekstra and others on this important bill. We need to modernize FISA to keep up with changes in communications technology and the continually evolving tactics of our terrorist enemies.

We made some important steps in this direction only 90 days ago. We all understand that more needs to be done. But rather than responding to this need, this legislation actually impedes the intelligence community's ability to conduct effective investigations and to prevent future terrorist attacks.

This act requires FISA court orders for the first time for thousands of overseas terrorist targets. The Director of National Intelligence, Admiral McConnell, has described this requirement as unworkable and impractical.

This act contains a sunset date which fails to provide the certainty under the law that our intelligence community needs to effectively do its job.

It doesn't provide the liability protections for telephone companies and other carriers that assisted the government after 9/11 who now have a flurry of harassing lawsuits facing them.

Mr. Speaker, the majority claims that this legislation will restore a balance between civil liberties and national security. In fact, this bill will restore the intelligence gap that existed prior to our actions the 1st of August.

I urge this legislation be defeated. The current bill is better than this bill. We need to deal with it certainly between now and the end of the 6 months, but let's not take a step backwards. Let's let the law do what this law was intended to do in 1978 and is doing today.

6:53 PM EST

John Conyers Jr., D-MI 14th

Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure now to recognize the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Wasserman Schultz), a member of the Judiciary Committee, for 1 1/4 minutes.

6:55 PM EST

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-FL 20th

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, in August I urged my colleagues to vote against an unconstitutional Senate bill. Simply put, that bill trampled on our constituents' constitutional right to privacy.

Today, I am proud to rise in support of the RESTORE Act, a bill that provides the intelligence community the tools it needs, but that restores the constitutional rights of Americans.

Mr. Speaker, we can be both safe and free, and this bill strikes the right balance.

This bill permits surveillance of foreign-to-foreign communication. It allows us to listen in on Osama bin Laden or any other terrorist who threatens our troops or country. This bill will keep us safe.

But this bill also requires a warrant from the FISA Court in order to eavesdrop on the communications of ordinary Americans, and it requires a court review of targeting procedures to ensure Americans' rights are protected. This bill restores our civil liberties.

Mr. Speaker, our colleagues across the aisle would rather play politics with this bill and unleash arguments of mass distortion, so let me be clear: nothing in this bill gives our constitutional rights to terrorists.

Our Republican colleagues create this smoke screen in order to hide the fact that they have taken away those same constitutional freedoms from Americans.

We need not choose between our secure and liberty. With the RESTORE Act, we can have both.

6:55 PM EST

Peter Hoekstra, R-MI 2nd

Mr. HOEKSTRA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute.

This morning as we did the rules debate, I asked some questions of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, and they said we will cover that during general debate tonight.

So the questions I have that I hope will be answered is in the manager's amendment that was presented this [Page: H14051]

morning and was voted on in the self-enacting rule talks about illegal aliens. The questions I have:

Would it allow surveillance against possible illegal aliens for law enforcement purposes?

Would it allow foreign intelligence surveillance to be conducted against transnational smuggling rings?

Would it allow surveillance to determine whether someone is an alien not permitted to be in or remain in the United States?

Would the amendment exempt undocumented aliens from the physical search requirements of FISA? Exactly how far does this amendment go? What is it intended to do?

These were the questions that I asked this morning that I hope will be answered tonight.

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

6:56 PM EST

Peter Hoekstra, R-MI 2nd

Mr. HOEKSTRA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute.

This morning as we did the rules debate, I asked some questions of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, and they said we will cover that during general debate tonight.

So the questions I have that I hope will be answered is in the manager's amendment that was presented this [Page: H14051]

morning and was voted on in the self-enacting rule talks about illegal aliens. The questions I have:

Would it allow surveillance against possible illegal aliens for law enforcement purposes?

Would it allow foreign intelligence surveillance to be conducted against transnational smuggling rings?

Would it allow surveillance to determine whether someone is an alien not permitted to be in or remain in the United States?

Would the amendment exempt undocumented aliens from the physical search requirements of FISA? Exactly how far does this amendment go? What is it intended to do?

These were the questions that I asked this morning that I hope will be answered tonight.

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

6:57 PM EST

Mac Thornberry, R-TX 13th

Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that here we are again debating a FISA bill that is more about politics than it is about the country. This bill is a cobbled-together mess designed to keep most of the Democratic Caucus together rather than a bill designed to meet the national security needs of the country. It is full of contradictory, unworkable provisions.

Most of this body and most of the American people agree that our intelligence professionals, civilian and military, should be able to gather foreign intelligence on terrorists and others without having a pack of lawyers trail along behind you. Unfortunately, that is exactly what they will need if this bill were to ever become law.

It is also sad that those who have volunteered to help defend us against terrorists are being punished. We debate Good Samaritan laws from time to time. The country needs Good Samaritans, as well, to help prevent terrorist attacks.

What the country needs, Mr. Speaker, is an updated law that intelligence professionals can really use, that really works in the field, not some cobbled-together mess designed to achieve a political purpose just before a recess. We can do better. I continue to hope that someday this House actually will.

[Time: 19:00]

7:02 PM EST

Peter Hoekstra, R-MI 2nd

Mr. HOEKSTRA. Mr. Speaker, I think we have balanced the time. We chose on our side to go with the 15 minutes of Judiciary time and then 15 minutes of Intelligence time. I believe the people in opposition to this bill now have 10 minutes; the people who are supportive of this bill have 11. That sounds like balance to me.

I reserve the balance of my time.

7:03 PM EST

Jan Schakowsky, D-IL 9th

Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the RESTORE Act because I believe that the way we conduct the fight against terrorism says a great deal about who we are as a people.

We all want to keep the country safe from terrorism and to provide the necessary tools to our intelligence community, but I am not willing to sacrifice who we are and what we stand for just because this President says so.

The President's Protect America Act cut the FISA Court out of the process. The RESTORE Act puts the court back in. Now, the court, not the President, will decide whether the constitutional legal requirements are met. The court will assess in advance a program of surveillance that may intercept the communications of Americans. The court will ensure that the system the NSA establishes will protect the rights of any Americans they come across. The RESTORE Act clarifies the Protect America Act cannot

be used to conduct secret searches of Americans' homes, businesses, computers, and medical records. It reiterates the exclusivity of FISA, which would put an end to secret, warrantless spying programs. It makes clear that the President has to obey the laws.

The RESTORE Act requires meaningful reporting to the Congress about the warrantless surveillance programs that have occurred since September 11, and it will require meaningful oversight in the future. The RESTORE Act will make America safer and keeps us true to who we are as a Nation. I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes.''

7:04 PM EST

Dan Lungren, R-CA 3rd

Mr. DANIEL E. LUNGREN of California. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Once again, I would ask my friends on the other side of the aisle: Can anyone explain why, on page 3, you give stronger rights to someone who is a suspected terrorist, even Osama bin Laden, if he has a communication we intercept believing it was going to be foreign-to-foreign, now foreign to someone in the United States, and in that he reveals where he is, why we cannot use that information as we are able to with a legal wiretap in the United States on an American citizen [Page:


charged with a crime who calls someone who is not a target of a crime? I do not understand it. Page 3. Is there anybody on your side who can explain why you would have that?

The silence has been deafening for a month now on this.

7:05 PM EST

John Conyers Jr., D-MI 14th

Mr. CONYERS. That is why I seek to have you yield to me, sir.

Osama bin Laden is never going to have any rights superior to any citizen.

7:06 PM EST

Dan Lungren, R-CA 3rd

Mr. DANIEL E. LUNGREN of California. Reclaiming my time, because I asked you to specifically talk about the language in the bill. I have read it and read it and read it, and you have refused to respond to it, even though the chairman of the Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights told me that I was correct in my reading of the bill and that you folks were going to change it. You didn't change it. I expect that is because you forgot about it.

I would invite the gentleman from New York to respond to me, because he intellectually honestly told me just 2 1/2 weeks ago that you folks were going to change it. Why haven't you done it?

Mr. Speaker, the silence I think speaks volumes. This is a bill that is not ready for prime time. It inadvertently protects Osama bin Laden with greater rights than an American citizen charged with a crime.

7:07 PM EST

John Conyers Jr., D-MI 14th

Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, it is very important that we understand that Mr. Lungren in his dramatic presentation about the cumbersomeness and the protections that we are affording bin Laden almost begs the question here.

We have been on this bill for several times. We have got a carve-out here. Nothing prevents conducting lawful surveillance that is necessary to, one, prevent Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda or any other terrorists, Mr. Lungren, or any ally of those persons from receiving any of these protections. We can operate against them without giving them any rights, and I think you must know that by now.

7:09 PM EST

John Shadegg, R-AZ 3rd

Mr. SHADEGG. Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that this bill raises a fundamental question: Do we trust judges, unelected judges, to control foreign intelligence? Are we going to move that responsibility from the executive branch to judges? Or is that not their job?

As I explained earlier, this measure requires that a warrant be obtained every single time you are seeking to gather foreign intelligence. That means that we are asking Federal judges, who are unelected, to decide in 100 percent of the cases whether we can or cannot gather intelligence.

Now, I respect judges. I admire judges. But judges have the duty of deciding disputes between Americans. They do not have the responsibility to protect our Nation. But this bill says you can never gather intelligence from a foreigner without first going and getting a warrant.

So a job that under our Constitution has been given to the executive branch, that is, to conduct foreign intelligence and protect the Nation, we are now taking from the executive branch and giving to judges. Because unelected Federal judges, who have no responsibility to protect our Nation, no responsibility to gather foreign intelligence, now get to decide, this has never been true in the history of our Nation, whether or not the Federal Government will gather any intelligence.

I respect judges. I am all for judges. If I am in a dispute over the civil rights of an American, I want a judge to decide. But when it comes to gathering intelligence about terrorists, we are going to take that authority away from the executive branch, which we have never done in the past, and give it to judges and judges only? Judges whom we cannot defeat in office, judges who are appointed, judges who do not stand for election, judges who cannot be voted out of office? We are going to take

the authority away from the executive branch to protect our Nation and in 100 percent of cases give it to unelected judges. That is a mistake.

7:11 PM EST

Jim Langevin, D-RI 2nd

Mr. LANGEVIN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 3773. This legislation does exactly what our Constitution requires us to do: protect security while preserving civil liberties.

Maintaining that balance has sometimes been difficult, and the events of 9/11 have made it even more challenging. However, the RESTORE Act is a carefully crafted solution. We all recognize the gravity of the threats facing our country, and this bill gives the Director of National Intelligence all the authority he has asked for to fight terrorism while at the same time it protects civil liberties.

Further, the RESTORE Act provides for rigorous and independent oversight from the courts, the Congress, and the Department of Justice Inspector General. In our committee markup, I successfully offered an amendment to even strengthen this oversight by preserving the FISA Court's role to review compliance with their rules every 90 days for the life of a court order.

Rigorous oversight is why the Bush administration objects to this bill. They want unfettered authority. Unfortunately, we have seen what happens without checks and balances, and I will not allow that to happen again. As Members of Congress, we took an oath to defend the Constitution and the principles on which it was founded.

I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 3773, which provides security while preserving the fundamental values that make this country so great.

7:13 PM EST

Heather Wilson, R-NM 1st

Mrs. WILSON of New Mexico. Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Rhode Island talked about the importance of upholding the Constitution, and there is something in the manager's amendment to this bill that was inserted without any hearing in the committee that I don't understand, that makes no sense to me. It is a provision that says, very plainly: This act and the amendments made by this act shall not be construed to prohibit surveillance of, or grant any rights to, an alien not permitted to be in or

remain in the United States.

Now, I think there are probably a lot of people on this side of the aisle who don't have a problem with that provision. What I don't understand is why you all are proposing it.

Here is the irony here. This bill will extend rights under our Constitution to foreigners in foreign countries, while denying the protections of the Constitution to some 12 million people who are not legally in the United States, when the case law is clear that they do have rights. Whether we think they should have rights or not, the case law is absolutely clear. So we will deny those rights to people in the United States while extending them to people in foreign countries?

I think we should be clear with the American people why we insisted on fixing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and did so successfully in August. We had soldiers who were kidnapped in Iraq by insurgents.

[Time: 19:15]

And because of changes in technology and the demands of the court, the American military had to go to lawyers in the United States to get a warrant to try to intercept the communications of the terrorists trying to kill them. That took time, too much time. And the law had to be fixed.

Soldiers should not need an army of lawyers in Washington to listen to the communications of the enemy that's trying to kill them. This needed to be fixed, and we fixed it the first week of August.

We all remember where we were on the morning of 9/11. We remember who we were with, what we were wearing, what we ate for breakfast. [Page: H14053]

But people don't remember where they were the day that the British Government arrested 16 people who were within 48 hours of walking on to airliners and blowing them up simultaneously over the Atlantic. We don't remember it because it didn't happen. And the reason it didn't happen is because of exceptional intelligence and the cooperation of the British, Pakistani and American Governments.

7:16 PM EST

Silvestre Reyes, D-TX 16th

Mr. REYES. Mr. Speaker, I'm concerned about the self-induced confusion on the other side.

I now yield 1 3/4 minutes to the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Patrick J. Murphy) who served in Iraq and also serves with me on the Armed Services Committee, as well as our Intelligence Committee.

7:16 PM EST

Patrick Murphy, D-PA 8th

Mr. PATRICK J. MURPHY of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the RESTORE Act and to set the record straight on an issue that is close to my heart.

In May of 2007, three men from the 10th Mountain Division were captured in Iraq. They're names are Specialist Alex Jiminez, Private First Class Joseph Anzak, and Private Byron Fouty. I recite their names because the right wing attack machine never does. But these are the facts, and they're not pretty.

The intelligence community stood ready to help find these three soldiers. But for 5 hours, for 5 hours, the Bush administration could not decide what to do. When they decided to go ahead, no Bush administration official could authorize it, could be found to authorize it. But when they finally found the Attorney General in Texas, it took an additional 2 hours to authorize the surveillance, even though he could have granted the authority in just minutes. Hours of indecision and incompetence while

these three soldiers went missing.


While the RESTORE Act can solve many problems posed by the current FISA law, it will not solve the problem in these soldiers' situations.

7:44 PM EST

Patrick Murphy, D-PA 8th

Mr. PATRICK J. MURPHY of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, this has been a very powerful and emotional debate today, and the issue is very close to my heart. I did not mean to offend anyone across the other side of the aisle. And I ask the Speaker and the other side for unanimous consent to withdraw the paragraph that may have given offense to some Members that were on the floor.

7:44 PM EST

Peter Hoekstra, R-MI 2nd

Mr. HOEKSTRA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 30 seconds.

I just want to make a couple of points. Again, no one has answered the questions that I asked earlier today and that I asked in the debate tonight. The amendment talking about illegal aliens, would it allow for surveillance against possible illegal aliens? Would it allow for foreign intelligence surveillance to be conducted against transnational smuggling gangs? Would the amendment exempt undocumented aliens from the physical search requirements?

And then just to reiterate the point that my colleague made in the previous speech, this is all about lawyering up the process, and that's what extends the time.

At this point, I yield 1 minute to my colleague, Mr. Kirk of Illinois.

7:45 PM EST

Mark Steven Kirk, R-IL 10th

Mr. KIRK. I thank the gentleman. And as the leader of the moderates in this, I would say that this issue should unite us all as Americans, not divide us along partisan lines.

I also speak as a Navy intelligence officer that would say that the provision that was newly included in this legislation says that nothing in this act shall prevent an intelligence officer from monitoring someone related to al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri to prevent an attack against the United States. But so much of our intelligence is beyond the imminent attack on the United States. So much of us in the intelligence world, we have to watch the earliest signs of this.

Let's be clear, this bill before us has nothing to do with the rights of U.S. citizens; those are already protected. As an intelligence officer, we are always drilled on the code of conduct in dealing with U.S. persons. This bill has everything to do with creating new rights for people overseas. And I think we should let our intelligence community monitor whoever Osama bin Laden is talking with to protect the United States, even if an attack is not imminent.

[Time: 19:45]

7:47 PM EST

Nancy Pelosi, D-CA 8th

Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, as one who has long served on the Intelligence Committee, I understand full well the threats to our national security. I understand full well the need for us to have legislation that strikes the proper balance between liberty and security. I think this legislation does just that. And I commend Chairman Conyers, chairman of the Judiciary Committee; and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Chairman Reyes, for their important work and their leadership

in presenting this legislation to the floor for consideration.

The bill is important and accomplishes the goal of striking the balance between security and liberty in the following ways: it defends Americans against terrorism and other threats; it protects Americans' civil liberties; and it restores checks and balances.

The bill protects Americans by providing the Director of National Intelligence with the flexibility he has requested of Congress to conduct electronic surveillance of persons outside the United States. No warrants are required whenever foreign-to-foreign communications are captured regardless of the point of collection or anywhere in the world.

It protects our civil liberties in a number of ways. The DNI has agreed that when Americans are targeted for surveillance, a warrant is required. We have now included certain criteria that the government must take into account in considering whether a warrant is required. This will help prevent inappropriate warrantless surveillance and ``reverse targeting'' of Americans under the guise of foreign intelligence.

The bill restores checks and balances. This is very, very important because it, again, is part of our oath of office to protect the Constitution of the United States. The bill rejects groundless claims of ``inherent executive authority.''

There are those who claim that the President has inherent authority from the Constitution to do whatever he wishes. Long ago our Founders rejected that concept in founding our country. We must do that as well and continue to make that clear.

The legislation also makes clear that FISA is the exclusive means for conducting electronic surveillance to gather foreign intelligence. The government must seek approval from a FISA Court. So we are talking about the Congress of the United States passing legislation, as it did in the late seventies, passing this legislation today which is in light of the new technologies and new reality in the world, and recognizing the authority of the third branch of government: the courts.

This legislation includes extensive reporting to Congress with respect to the interception and dissemination of communications among Americans and from Americans. This is very important because we want to minimize the use of that information and keep it for the purpose for which it is collected.

Most significantly, the bill does not provide immunity to telecommunications companies that participated in the President's warrantless surveillance program. We cannot even consider providing immunity unless we know exactly what we are providing immunity from. And even then, and even then, we have to proceed with great caution.

It is important to note that the bill sunsets on December 31, 2009, the date the PATRIOT Act sunsets, so the next administration and the next Congress can review and reassess the program.

This legislation is supported by organizations dedicated to protecting our national security and protecting our civil liberties, including the Center for National Security Studies, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and many other groups that work to protect privacy rights. The bill protects both national security and civil liberties, reaffirms our constitutional system of checks and balances, and deserves the support of this House.

Mr. Speaker, all of us want our President to have the best possible intelligence, our President and our policymakers, so they can do the best possible job to protect the American people. But no President, Democrat or Republican, should have the authority, to have inherent authority, to collect on Americans without doing so under the law. This legislation establishes that principle; and it establishes it in a very focused way in keeping with the need for flexibility for the Director of National

Intelligence, in keeping with honoring our oath of office to the Constitution. I urge our colleagues to support this important legislation.

I, for one, am very, very proud of the work of Mr. Conyers and Mr. Reyes and thank them for their leadership.

7:53 PM EST

Peter Hoekstra, R-MI 2nd

Mr. HOEKSTRA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute.

A month after I originally came to the floor to oppose this bill, I now rise in opposition to this flawed legislation, which, disappointingly, has been made worse ever since we started the process.

In August Congress finally acted, after months of prodding from Republicans, to close significant intelligence gaps against potential foreign terrorists in foreign countries that jeopardize America's ability to protect and prevent potential terrorist attacks and to effectively collect intelligence on foreign adversaries.

Now we have a simple choice: Do we do what is necessary to provide long-term legal authority for our intelligence community to conduct necessary surveillance, or do we reopen that intelligence gap?

It now seems that the majority is determined to move a bill intended to make political statements rather than to give intelligence professionals the tools that they need to protect our country.

I urge my colleagues to vote against this bill.

7:54 PM EST

Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. I thank my friend for yielding. I thank him for his leadership as well. I thank Mr. Conyers for his leadership, and I thank Mr. Hoekstra and Mr. Smith for their participation.

This is a serious issue that confronts us. Mr. Speaker, this legislation, the RESTORE Act, is nothing less than the fundamental reiteration of the most basic concepts of our Constitution, our constitutional form of government that we, indeed, are a Nation of laws and that our Founders deliberately designed our three branches of government to serve as a check and balance on each other.

One of my colleagues, my friend, I believe, from Arizona, stood and said it was not the job of judges to conduct intelligence. He was correct. It is not the job of judges to conduct intelligence. But it is the constitutional duty given by our Founding Fathers, who understood that King George too often abused his sovereign power and who said to all that they would have adopt this Constitution that we will protect you from the abuse of power of government, and we will do it by having it reviewed

by independent judges, not by the legislature.

We can be told by judges that we are not acting constitutionally, and that is a protection for our people against congressional abuse of power. And the executive department can be told by judges you are abusing your constitutional power. No power, no protection was felt to be more necessary and important by our Founding Fathers than their right to personal privacy and a lack of intrusion by King George just because he wanted to do it. And they said King George had to have probable cause, in this

case, the Government of the United States. So that's why they established the courts. And we, in our wisdom, in my view, established the FISA Court to do just that.

Every single one of us here recognizes that our highest duty is to protect the American people. Indeed, we must detect, disrupt, and eliminate terrorists who have no compunction about planning and participating in the mass killing of innocent people. We saw that tragically on 9/11. We also, each one of us, come to this well or stand at our seats and raise our hand and swear an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States, to protect its laws and to honor the values and principles that

are contained therein. That is our oath. That is what we do here this night, including the fourth amendment right that Americans are secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. That's not an assertion on any individual or any government or even the [Page: H14055]

legislature. It was an assertion by our Founding Fathers that they had seen too often abuses by the executive agencies of government.

Our basic duties as Members of this Congress, protecting the American people and protecting the values that define us as Americans, are not mutually exclusive. We can protect our country and protect our Constitution. That is our duty.

And that is precisely what this historic act, introduced by Chairman Reyes and Chairman Conyers, has done. This legislation gives our intelligence community the tools it needs to listen in on those who seek to harm us while addressing concerns that the bill passed in August could authorize warrantless surveillance of Americans. That is our concern. That is our focus.

Among other things, this legislation modernizes the technologically outdated Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 by restoring a checks and balances rule for the FISA Court and addressing the intelligence gap asserted by the Director of National Intelligence.

[Time: 20:00]

We heard Director McConnell. We want to help Director McConnell. Let us be clear. This legislation does not require a warrant for listening in on suspected and known terrorists, period. An assertion to the contrary is not accurate. In fact, it clarifies that no court order is required for surveillance of conversations where both parties are foreign citizens. It does not extend constitutional rights to suspected or known terrorists, assertions to the contrary notwithstanding. Nor does it delay

the collection of intelligence information.

Furthermore, it grants the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence authority, authority to apply to the FISA Court for a block order, not an individual order, not a discrete order, but a block order saying that you can pursue this gathering of information to protect America, but you cannot do it simply because you want to do it. You've got to do it consistent with the Constitution of the United States and the laws thereof. You cannot conduct freelance surveillance without some

authority of law.

The FISA Court can give a block order to conduct surveillance on large groups of foreign targets for up to a year, and that can be renewed, ensuring that only foreigners are targeted and Americans' rights are preserved. That was the whole reason in a bipartisan way we adopted FISA, to make sure that was the case.

Why do you fear a FISA Court reviewing that basic principle that was its intent at its adoption?

Finally, the legislation is silent on the issue of retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that possibly violated privacy laws in turning over consumer information to the government. We don't make that judgment today. We need to review information to know what was done before we immunize conduct which we do not know. Simply stated, it would be grossly irresponsible for Congress to grant a blanket immunity for companies without even knowing whether their conduct was legal, appropriate,

reasonable or not. Don't you think the American public, each one of our constituents, expects that of us?

In closing, Mr. Speaker, let me quote The Washington Post, which stated in October, the measure produced by the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees would alleviate the burden of obtaining individualized warrants for foreign targets while still maintaining a critical oversight for the FISA Court. In other words, we are relieving the administration from the burden of discrete approval. But we are providing for the protections that Americans expect under our Constitution.

Mr. Speaker, we must give our Commander in Chief, the President of the United States and the intelligence community the resources, the authority, and flexibility that is necessary to protect our people and defend our Nation. I believe each of us in this Congress support that objective. But we must also honor the values and principles that make us Americans. This legislation allows us to do both.

I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, facilitate the interception of information and terrorist communication dangerous to our people and our country. And at the same time, redeem that oath of protecting and defending our Constitution.

8:05 PM EST

John A. Boehner, R-OH 8th

Mr. BOEHNER. Let me thank my colleague for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, in August the Congress passed the Protect America Act. Before that bill passed, our intelligence officials did not have the tools they needed to protect our troops and to detect and prevent terrorist plots. This was made clear in a story we read about just last month about our, how our FISA laws failed our soldiers who were kidnapped in Iraq, and I think these outdated laws actually hampered their rescue. That is because our FISA laws in place before the Protect America Act entrusted

government lawyers, not our intelligence professionals, to protect our troops and our security.

Yet the bill we are considering today only makes this problem worse. It reopens the terrorist loophole and doesn't ensure that we can act quickly on vital intelligence to protect our troops and the American people. I think it would be a boon to trial lawyers who could take actions against third parties who assisted our government at our request after 9/11. It is yet another example of a troubling pattern of behavior on the part the majority, a pattern of behavior that is undermining our national

security. Let me just give you a few examples.

The majority want to extend habeas corpus rights to terrorists. The majority has had over 40 votes in the Congress trying to force retreat in Iraq. The majority wants to close down our Guantanamo detention facility and move those terrorists into American communities. The majority, in their intelligence authorization bill and appropriation bill, are diverting key intelligence resources away from terrorist surveillance to study global warming.

In August, all the Members of this House succeeded in modernizing FISA and closing the terrorist loophole. We did so because terrorists were plotting to kill Americans and our allies, and there is no nice way of saying that. So why on Earth would we tie the hands of our intelligence officials again and open up this loophole that allows terrorists to jeopardize the safety of our troops and jeopardize the safety and security of the American people?

Our country is safer today because of our efforts, and Republicans want to work with Democrats to make the Protect America Act permanent. We were very close to a bipartisan agreement on this bill just about 5 weeks ago, very close. As a matter of fact, there was an agreement in principle until the ACLU got ahold of it and blew the entire bipartisan process up. I think the American people want us to do everything we can to make sure that they are safe and secure. The bill that we have before us

will once again tie the hands of our intelligence officials and make America less safe. This is not the bill that I want to vote for.

8:08 PM EST

Silvestre Reyes, D-TX 16th

Mr. REYES. Mr. Speaker, this bill, the RESTORE Act, is about balance. It is about putting checks and balances back in the process. It puts the FISA Court back in the process of protecting Americans. It corrects unchecked authority that we gave through the Protect America Act. Some would want us to continue to rubber-stamp what the administration wants. The American people deserve better.

Mr. Speaker, Halloween is over. Why do our colleagues continue to pull ghouls out of the closet? It is now time to talk turkey.

I yield back the balance of my time.

8:09 PM EST

John Conyers Jr., D-MI 14th

Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I am privileged to yield the balance of our [Page: H14056]

time on our side to the distinguished gentlewoman from Texas, SHEILA JACKSON-LEE, an invaluable member of the Judiciary Committee.