12:08 PM EDT

John Conyers Jr., D-MI 14th

Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 1041, I call up the bill (H.R. 3773) to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to establish a procedure for authorizing certain acquisitions of foreign intelligence, and for other purposes, with a Senate amendment thereto, and ask for its immediate consideration in the House.

The Clerk read the title of the bill.

12:09 PM EDT

John Conyers Jr., D-MI 14th

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

Ladies and gentlemen of the House, we finally come to the point in time where we consider the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendments, and I am delighted to bring this measure to the floor.

I begin by observing that there are few rights that are more fundamental to our democracy than the right to have protections against unreasonable search and seizure, and there are few responsibilities that are more important than the government's protecting us from foreign threats. I submit that the measure before us does both of those and regards them as the two most important acts that we can pursue as responsible Members of the Congress. That conflict or tension goes to the very core of who

we are as a Nation.

Now, for more than 30 years, we have relied on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to strike the appropriate balance between the government's need to protect our rights from foreign attack and our citizens' right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and to have freedom of speech. The heart of that bargain was that the government could indeed use its awesome power of surveillance but only through independent court review. That's FISA since 1978.

Now, a few years ago, the administration unilaterally chose to engage in warrantless surveillance of American citizens without court review. And last August, when this scheme appeared to be breaking down, this administration pushed through a law that it had caused to be drafted that essentially transferred the power of independent review from the courts to the Attorney General of the United States. Today, we will be voting on legislation to restore that proper balance.

And so we present to you an uncomplicated consideration of a measure that has three titles. The first allows the government to obtain a single court order to approve surveillance against all members of any known terrorist group. It includes important safeguards to make sure that this power is not used to target innocent Americans.

[Time: 12:15]

The chairman of the Intelligence Committee has a lot more to say about that.

The second title deals with the difficult issue of how we make sure that those telecom carriers who assisted the government in the aftermath of the September 11 tragedy are not placed in a position where they cannot defend themselves in court.

And then, finally, the last title provides an accounting of the highly controversial warrantless surveillance program. The administration tells us they have nothing to hide and the program was lawful in their program or its implementation. If that is the case, they should have nothing to fear from this blue ribbon commission that will be created by the enactment of the provision before us.

Now, we learned only yesterday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was continuing to misuse the authorities that we granted it under the PATRIOT Act 6 years ago to unlawfully obtain information about law-abiding Americans. Just yesterday. We learned 4 days ago that the National Security Agency was using its massive power to create a nationwide database of American citizens. Four days ago.

And so that's why I believe it important that we include the civil liberties safeguards set forth in the legislation today. We have been working very closely with the American Civil Liberties Union in that regard, and we have a half dozen other organizations that have fully endorsed the bill.

The legislation before us gives the administration and the agencies every tool they need to protect our Nation against terrorism, while at the same time protecting our own citizens' civil rights and liberties. I urge that we carefully examine the proposition before us.

And I will reserve the balance of my time.

12:17 PM EDT

Lamar S. Smith, R-TX 21st

Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

This debate today is not about Republican or Democratic arguments. It is not about right or left ideology. It is simply about protecting our country, and it is about protecting American lives. This might be a good time to recall the story of the American soldiers who were killed in Iraq last May. When the U.S. military discovered that the soldiers had been kidnapped by terrorists, they launched a full scale search and rescue mission.

In the early hours of the operation, U.S. intelligence officials on the ground discovered a lead that required immediate electronic surveillance of telephone conversations. But the terrorist loophole, which requires a court order from Washington before conducting surveillance on a foreign target, prevented our intelligence officials from gathering information from almost 10 hours.

The body of one of the soldiers was later found in the Euphrates River. The terrorists claim to have executed the other two soldiers.

We will never know if that information could have saved the lives of our soldiers. But we do know that the terrorist loophole tied our hands then and perhaps is costing us lives now.

Prior to enactment of the Protect America Act, the Director of National Intelligence, Admiral McConnell, warned Congress that our intelligence community was missing two-thirds of all overseas terrorist communications. Three weeks ago, the Protect America Act expired, and our intelligence community lost the tools they need to monitor terrorists overseas and protect Americans here at home. We may never recover the foreign intelligence lost because of Congress's inaction.

This intelligence might have given us information about terrorist plots or foreign espionage. I hope these missed opportunities will not lead to a terrorist attack in the United States or in other countries that could have been prevented.

We are now 27 days late and much intelligence short because of the Democratic leadership's refusal to consider the bipartisan Senate bill. If they had brought it to the floor 3 weeks ago, it would have passed easily; and America would be safer today. But rather than modernize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Democrat majority's bill actually weakens it.

First, the Democrats' bill requires a court order before the government can begin surveillance of a foreign terrorist overseas. FISA has never required a court order to target foreigners overseas. As we saw in May, this causes significant delays in gathering foreign intelligence, placing Americans at risk.

Second, the Democrats' bill denies giving immunity to telecommunications providers who assisted the government following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The past [Page: H1743]

and future cooperation of these companies is essential to our national security.

Ninety-eight percent of America's communications technology is owned by private sector companies. We cannot conduct foreign surveillance without them. But if we continue to subject them to billion-dollar lawsuits, we risk losing their cooperation in the future. In fact, this bill is so flawed that the President has promised to veto it. Even more, Senator Reid, the Democratic majority leader, acknowledges that this legislation will never pass in the Senate.

Congress can and must do better than this bill. Our liberties, our security, and the future of our Nation depend on it.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this fatally flawed piece of legislation, and I ask the Democratic majority to bring the bipartisan Senate bill to the House floor for a vote.

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

12:21 PM EDT

Silvestre Reyes, D-TX 16th

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

I am proud to rise today in support of H.R. 3773, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. This bill arms our intelligence community with powerful new tools to track and identify terrorist targets outside the United States. At the same time, it restores essential constitutional protections to Americans that were sharply eroded when the President signed the law known as the Protect America Act last August.

We have put the security of Americans first and foremost, with close attention to their constitutional rights. We have also included provisions to allow companies that acted lawfully to make that argument to the courts. If they did nothing wrong, as they have said, then they will be immune from any lawsuit.

Title I of this bill ensures that the government does not need to get an individualized warrant when it targets communications of targets overseas, the so-called foreign-to-foreign. This is the central problem that the administration cited with FISA in August, and we have fixed it.

Let me be clear, Mr. Speaker, this bill does not require individual warrants for foreign targets before surveillance can begin. It does require the FISA Court to ensure that the procedures that the government uses to identify foreign targets are designed to protect the rights of Americans. This independent front-end review is necessary to ensure that the rights of Americans are being properly protected before any violations occur. However, we also provide a generous emergency provision, at least

30 days, so that the surveillance can begin in an emergency before the government has to go get approval from a court.

In title II, we address the issue of the lawsuits filed against the telecom companies who allegedly participated in the President's warrantless surveillance program. This bill allows the courts to carefully safeguard classified information under well-established protocols. This information that the companies may wish to use to defend themselves now gives them that opportunity. This will also allow the companies to defend themselves in a secure effort. If they are innocent, they will face no damage.

If they broke the law, they will be held to account. But this issue will be decided by a court, the American way.

Title III of this bill establishes a bipartisan national commission to investigate warrantless tapping. I believe that the Nation is deeply concerned about what has gone on for the last 7 years. And I also want to restore some of the trust in the intelligence community. Title III is designed to do just that, by bringing these things into light in a careful and bipartisan manner. The American people deserve to know the truth about what has happened. This provision makes that happen.

This is an important step forward, Mr. Speaker. So I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes.''

I reserve the balance of my time.

12:25 PM EDT

Lamar S. Smith, R-TX 21st

Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, not enough attention is given to what the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General think about this piece of legislation; and in order to serve that purpose, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Feeney), who is also a member of the Judiciary Committee.

12:25 PM EDT

Tom Feeney, R-FL 24th

Mr. FEENEY. Mr. Speaker, there couldn't be a more critical discussion to have this morning before we cast this critical vote. The chairman of the Intelligence Committee, I must say, I respectfully disagree with in terms of the devastating consequences his proposal would have. The Attorney General of the United States and the Director of National Intelligence have looked at this proposal, and here is what they have said about the majority's proposal: ``Requiring prior court approval to gather

foreign intelligence from foreign targets located overseas: the reason Congress did not include such a requirement when it passed the original FISA statute and with good reason, these foreign targets have no right to any court review of such surveillance under our Constitution. We know from experience requiring prior court approval is a formula for delay. Thus, this framework would impede vital foreign intelligence collection and put the Nation at unnecessary and greater risk.''

Ladies and gentlemen, assume that you are the head of a corporation or a business in America after America is attacked, thousands of lives and several cities attacked; assuming that there is imminent threats to dozens of other cities and millions of others; assuming the Attorney General or the President contacts you and say that you have access to information that will save millions of Americans. What would you do? I hope you would cooperate.

That is what many companies did, and now they are subject, in San Francisco, to over 50 lawsuits for tens of billions of dollars. The question is whether we ought to protect patriotic companies that for several hundred years have had a privilege to cooperate with government. It's true that technically they may have immunity. But here is what you haven't acknowledged: the immunity is useless to them because they cannot assert it. It would be a violation of Federal law.

Mr. Speaker, I will submit for the Record a letter from the general counsel of AT&T, the victim of one of these trial lawyer suits to the tune of tens of billions of dollars as he talks about the state secrets doctrine that prevents them from protecting themselves in a court of law, as he talks about the dilemma that they face in the future going forward if they want to help Americans defend themselves.

12:28 PM EDT

John Conyers Jr., D-MI 14th

Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize JIM MARSHALL of Georgia, who has worked with us on this month in and month out, for 1 1/2 minutes.

12:28 PM EDT

Jim Marshall, D-GA 8th

Mr. MARSHALL. I would like to clarify some elements of the process to be established under title II of the bill we debate today. Title II of the bill would assist the telecommunications carriers in dealing with the civil lawsuits they currently face by permitting them to use classified information in defense of claims against them.

I want to be clear that any review of classified information would only take place in the judge's chambers without the plaintiffs or their representatives present. The bill requires the judge to follow the procedures in section 106(f) of FISA.

Am I correct in my understanding that section 106(f) of FISA requires that the review of any classified information must take place in camera and ex parte and that such classified information must remain secret, that it is not to be disclosed to the plaintiffs, their representatives or any others except those authorized to receive such information by virtue of their security clearances?

12:30 PM EDT

Lamar S. Smith, R-TX 21st

Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. King), a member of the Judiciary Committee.

12:30 PM EDT

Steve King, R-IA 5th

Mr. KING of Iowa. I thank the ranking member for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, you know, we are here not really talking about the issue of rights. I haven't found anyone yet who has had their rights trampled on, their rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, as the chairman announced from the beginning.

As I look at what is going on here in policy, there is a situation going on right now in New York, in that area, where you have contractors that answered the call and the crisis of 9/11, and they are under lawsuits by the thousands, and I think we are in pretty much unanimous agreement that we should indemnify them for answering the call to protect America. I don't understand the difference between why we would not want to indemnify an information company that answered the call to protect America.

To me, those are the closest two comparisons that we can get. If we protect contractors when they went to that smoking hole in that war zone, why won't we protect telecommunication companies when they stepped up on good faith and believed that they were legally operating under the law?

Where is that first citizen that has had their privacy violated? I haven't found one yet. None have been brought forward. I sat in hours of classified briefings. No one even uttered the name of a person who had their rights violated.

The chairman talked about restoring the proper balance. Well, here is the thing that sits behind this restoring the proper balance. This is from page 8 of the AT&T letter. ``The legal paradox has implications not just for the carrier defendants, but for the Nation's security in general. It suggests to private companies that even good-faith cooperation is apparently authorized, and lawful intelligence activity can expose them to serious legal and business risk. This creates incentives to resist

cooperation.''

That sets up a scenario where we are saying to companies, cooperate with us, but you might have to face, and will face, billions and billions of dollars of lawsuits, two score more of lawsuits, two dozen or more aggregated under a single court, Ninth Circuit, San Francisco, and they are watching their share values go down and watching their opportunities diminish around the world. And then we put them in the face of the paradox, what do you do if there is another attack on America?

These scales of justice are now out of balance because the trial lawyers have put this thing out of balance, and the political pressure and the risk to the American people of the security of being attacked again are what is weighing on the other side. When the fear of attack gets greater and when the political benefit becomes that point, then we will offset the trial lawyers and we will get a bill.

12:33 PM EDT

Jerrold Nadler, D-NY 8th

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this carefully crafted legislation which gives our intelligence agencies all the tools they say they need to protect our country while protecting our fundamental civil liberties.

In the last few weeks, we have heard countless assertions from our colleagues on the other side that are false and misleading. They claim that we allowed the Protect America Act to expire, when it was the Republicans who blocked attempts to extend that bill temporarily, and they continue to claim that retroactive immunity for the telecom companies is necessary for the security of the country.

The telecom companies aided the administration's surveillance program. Some people, American citizens, believe their constitutional rights were violated and brought a lawsuit against the government and telecom companies.

There are two narratives here. One is that these companies patriotically aided the administration to protect Americans from terrorists. The other is that they conspired with a lawless administration to violate the constitutional rights of Americans. Which of these narratives is right is for a court to decide. It is not the role of Congress to decide legal cases between private parties. That is why we have courts.

We had told the telecom companies they would not be subject to lawsuits for doing their duty. But whether they were doing their duty or abusing the rights of Americans is precisely the issue.

In any event, the existing law already provides absolute immunity if their help was requested and if they were given a statement by the Attorney General or various other government officials stating that the requested help did not require a warrant or court order and would not break the law. They have immunity. Whether those statements are true or not, they can rely absolutely on the government's assertions.

So why do they think they need retroactive immunity? Because of the administration's sweeping assertion of the State secrets doctrine, will has prevented the companies from claiming their immunity.

This bill allows the telecom companies in secret in court to present the evidence for their immunity and to get their immunity, if they obeyed the law. And I remind that obeying the law means simply obtaining a statement from the government that the company's help is needed and that the requested help does not require a court order or violated the law. A company that assisted in spying on its customers without getting that simple assurance from the government does not deserve immunity. And even

if we voted retroactive immunity, they would still have to prove that immunity for what they do next week in the same way, and they would have the same problem.

So, by solving the State secrets problem, we give the companies the immunity they need, if they need it, and if they obeyed the law. This still gives our intelligence agencies what they need. I urge its adoption.

12:38 PM EDT

Silvestre Reyes, D-TX 16th

Mr. REYES. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say that the 110th Congress is not a rubber stamp for anybody, the Senate or the administration.

I now yield 2 1/2 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Iowa (Mr. Boswell), the vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

(Mr. BOSWELL asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

12:41 PM EDT

Lamar S. Smith, R-TX 21st

Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Chabot), a member of both the Judiciary Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee.

12:42 PM EDT

Steven Chabot, R-OH 1st

Mr. CHABOT. I thank the gentleman for yielding. [Page: H1746]

Mr. Speaker, we are on the floor today debating yet again another set of amendments to FISA, another set of amendments that limit the ability of law enforcement and intelligence communities to make this Nation safer, another set of amendments that have no chance of becoming law. What these amendments do confirm is that we are a litigious society, that some are willing to put lawsuits over safety.

Prior to the passage of the Protect America Act, our intelligence community told us that they missed more than two-thirds of all overseas terrorist communications because of gaps and inconsistencies in the law. In August, we closed those holes, giving law enforcement and the intelligence communities the tools and resources they need to stay one step ahead.

Disappointingly, 26 days have passed since those provisions expired. For 26 days now, our law enforcement and intelligence communities have had to revert back to the status quo. They have had to revert back to a status that allows terrorists to have the upper hand. And yet this Chamber continues to bring legislation that we know will not do the job, all the while, knowing that there is a solution, a bipartisan solution, to this predicament.

The bipartisan solution lies in the legislation passed by the Senate 30 days ago. These amendments continue and build on the authorizations provided by the Protect America Act, ensuring that surveillance continues on foreign targets outside the United States. Immunity is provided to our communication partners, FISA applications, and orders are processed in a more timely manner, and lengthening the periods of emergency authorization for electronic surveillance.

Yet this bill is mindful of our Constitution and the protections it affords to U.S. citizens, whether they are inside or outside the United States. Moreover, the authority provided by the bill sunsets in 6 years, allowing Congress to revisit if issues arise.

I urge my colleagues to not make the safety of the American people a partisan issue.

12:44 PM EDT

John Conyers Jr., D-MI 14th

Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, could I remind my two distinguished members of Judiciary, Mike Pence of Indianapolis and Steve Chabot of Ohio, that the reason we are not taking up the Senate provisions is that the House has a better idea, and we are coequal. They don't give us whatever they want.

The Chair is pleased now to recognize Bobby Scott of Virginia, chairman of the Crime Committee, for 2 minutes.

12:47 PM EDT

Lamar S. Smith, R-TX 21st

Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to my colleague from Texas (Mr. Gohmert), who is not only on the Judiciary Committee but also the ranking member of the Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee.

12:48 PM EDT

Louie Gohmert Jr., R-TX 1st

Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, we have just heard reference to the Senate bill; and my friend, for whom I have great respect, our chairman of Judiciary, Chairman Conyers, mentioned that we are coequal branches. I would submit to you, we are an even more important branch because we are more accountable to the people than the Senate is.

The difference, though, in the Senate bill and this bill is, the Senate Democrats got input and allowed input into the bill from their Republican colleagues, and we are not allowed to make amendments on this bill. All we can do is come up and point out problems with it.

My friend, Mr. Nadler, whom I have come to believe has a brilliant legal intellect, has come on the floor this morning and said that there is false information from our side, that we are falsely misleading. He said that we have been less than honest. That bothers me to no end, because he knows some of the talking points that are being talked on this floor are just not right.

Now, I have read the bill. It's a better bill than the manager's amendment we dealt with last time; it is. But we are still not there, and we still haven't been allowed enough input to make it better.

But we also heard from one of our colleagues across the aisle that said he fought in Afghanistan, and he was a soldier. Thank God we have him and others that would do that. But the telecoms in the week, 2 weeks, 4 weeks right after 9/11, when we did not know if we were going to have thousands of Americans lost any day, they were put in a terrible situation.

You know the law. The law is very restricted on who in the telecom company can see the request or the demand from the administration, from the NSA or whoever makes it. You know that. I pushed to make sure in the law that they are at least allowed to talk to a lawyer, but they are restricted there.

Put yourself in their place. They get a request in any hypothetical case after Americans are killed in an act of war on our soil.

12:50 PM EDT

Silvestre Reyes, D-TX 16th

Mr. REYES. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 1/2 minutes to the gentlewoman from California, Ms. Anna Eshoo, who chairs our Subcommittee on Intelligence Community Management.

12:50 PM EDT

Anna G. Eshoo, D-CA 14th

Ms. ESHOO. I thank the distinguished chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 3773. Today's debate really goes to the heart of the two highest responsibilities of Members of Congress, to preserve our Constitution and to secure our Nation.

Front and center, that's what this bill does, it accomplishes both. It gives the intelligence community the most flexible tools for our professionals for their surveillance of terrorists and other necessary targets overseas. It accomplishes that. It safeguards our constitutional rights by requiring the FISA Court to approve targeting and minimization standards at the front end, when no emergency exists and to assure that Americans are not targeted.

It protects the private sector by providing prospective liability protection for telecommunications companies that provide lawful assistance to the government, and it provides those companies a way to present their defenses [Page: H1747]

in secure proceedings, in district court, without the administration using state secrets to block those defenses.

These are the most critical tools and safeguards, and that's why Members of Congress can be assured that they will be taking all the right steps by supporting this bill.

The bill is one that we should all support, and I am proud to support it.

12:52 PM EDT

Lamar S. Smith, R-TX 21st

Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to my colleague from Texas (Mr. McCaul), who is a member of the Homeland Security Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee.

12:52 PM EDT

Michael McCaul, R-TX 10th

Mr. McCAUL of Texas. Mr. Speaker, we all took an oath in this Chamber to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. That is what this debate here today is really all about.

By allowing the Protect America Act to expire, we are extending constitutional protections to foreign terrorists. This bill does nothing to fix that problem.

We need to pass this Senate bill that passed overwhelmingly on a bipartisan basis. I worked in the Justice Department on FISA warrants. The statute was never designed to apply to foreign terrorists in a foreign country, as recently stated by admiral Bobby Inman, the principal author of the FISA statute.

I want to point out two articles that were in The New York Times today: ``Afghanistan: Taliban Destroy Cell Towers.'' ``Taliban Threatens Afghan Cellphone Companies.''

This is what is happening. We need to protect America now by making the Protect America Act permanent. The Taliban in their own words, their own statements, says the surveillance program has ``caused heavy casualties to Taliban'' in great proportions.

It is time to pass the Protect America Act.

12:53 PM EDT

John Conyers Jr., D-MI 14th

Mr. CONYERS. I wanted my friend Judge Gohmert to know that the reason we didn't get the bipartisanship that the other body did is that you guys boycotted our meetings. Your ranking member or leader could have sent anybody to our meetings, but you didn't come. So now you are complaining.

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to recognize Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a valuable member of our Judiciary Committee, for 1 minute.

12:54 PM EDT

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-FL 20th

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, I began my service in Congress fighting for the right to privacy. Above all else, Americans' ability to communicate without the fear of having the government tap their phones, listen to their conversations or intercept their private communication is a right that just cannot be discarded.

Our good friends on the other side of the aisle have said if an American is not communicating with a terrorist, then they have nothing to fear. The manner in which the administration has conducted the warrantless surveillance program has undermined our citizens' confidence in the bedrock belief that we live in a free country where we do not live in constant fear of the government looking over our shoulder.

This is a cherished right that has been arrogantly cast aside by an administration run amok. After a careful review of both classified and unclassified materials concerning the administration's warrantless wiretapping program, I, like so many of my Judiciary Committee colleagues, concluded that the immunity that is proposed by the administration is unnecessary and goes too far.

We must be vigilant when protecting our citizens' right to privacy. It is a rare, unique, and important right that we cannot allow to be subjected to death by a thousand cuts. If the administration has its way and this right falls, what is next? We must stand in the breach and make sure that Americans' right to privacy is preserved.

I urge my colleagues to support this bill.

12:55 PM EDT

Lamar S. Smith, R-TX 21st

Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from Tennessee (Mrs. Blackburn), whom we wish were a member of the Judiciary Committee.

12:56 PM EDT

Marsha Blackburn, R-TN 7th

Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, the legislation before the House today is nothing short of an abdication of the liberal majority's responsibility to protect the American people. Yesterday's Investor's Business Daily editorial sums the bill up nicely, a ``FISA Fix for Lawyers.'' I could not say it better myself. After all, this bill is nothing short of an earmark for the trial bar, and it reveals the brazen partisan interest of this Democrat majority.

Rather than accept the bipartisan legislation adopted in the Senate and endorsed by our Nation's security experts, the liberal elite of this House instead brings forward a $72,440,904 thank you note to the trial bar. Why $72,440,904? That's the amount the trial attorneys have contributed to Democrat candidates in the 2008 election cycle.

But it might only be a down payment for the potential liability interest that they have if they get their way on their earmark bill. We have to say, at what cost? We have heard the story that I used in a Memphis story on February 28 of our three American soldiers who were kidnapped.

1:06 PM EDT

Silvestre Reyes, D-TX 16th

Mr. REYES. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 1/2 minutes to the gentleman from Rhode Island (Mr. Langevin) who serves on our Intelligence Committee.

(Mr. LANGEVIN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

1:06 PM EDT

Jim Langevin, D-RI 2nd

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 3773, a careful and reasoned approach to electronic surveillance. Though people have talked a lot about immunity, we must remember that because of changes in technology, this is a bill to update the way we conduct electronic surveillance.

I approached this subject with two principles in mind. First, our surveillance must be effective. Second, the rights of Americans must be protected. On the second point, there is a real difference between the Senate and the House bills.

The issue is how both bills handle the calls of Americans. Under the Senate bill, the DNI and the Attorney General approve surveillance and then go to the court, with no set timeline for ruling. Under the House bill, the program of surveillance, not the specific individual targets, is submitted to the court. The government will essentially ask the court: Is this method of handling the communications of Americans appropriate, careful, and, most importantly, constitutional?

The approval of a program of surveillance allows the government to get approval before there is an operational requirement. So there will never be any operational sacrifice here. If it were going to slow down intelligence collection or cause operational problems, I can see where some might take issue with that. But the simple fact is that the way this bill is drafted, there is no excuse for not getting the approvals in place in advance.

I am all for strong intelligence authorities. The beauty of this bill is it combines that with care for our civil liberties, without sacrificing either.

1:11 PM EDT

Roy Blunt, R-MO 7th

Mr. BLUNT. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Hoekstra for the leadership he has given on this issue.

The problem we have with the bill on the floor today is, in everything I read, it can't become law. That is one problem. A bigger problem is that it doesn't address the fundamental question of how we treat these companies for doing what we asked them to do after 9/11.

It is clear from all of the facts that as the FISA law anticipated, that the leaders of the House and the leaders of the Senate on the Intelligence Committee would be informed of what was going on. And, in fact, in October of 2001 and November of 2001, in March of 2002, those leaders were informed. On our side, the ranking Democrat at the time is the current Speaker of the House. Porter Goss, the future CIA director, was the chairman of the committee. They were informed on all of those occasions,

and these companies only have liability protection if they were pursuing what was given to them as a lawful government order; orders that Members of Congress, including the now Speaker, were told would be issued to these companies.

This program doesn't work without voluntary compliance on the foreign side. It also doesn't work without subpoenas on the American side, the U.S. side. Every U.S. effort has to include a subpoena. The 1978 law anticipated that. The law we would like to have on the books today continues that. But for foreign subpoenas, to have to get a court order for a foreign request of somebody in a foreign country simply bogs this program down to the point it won't work. We proved that in July of last year

when this FISA came to a screeching halt.

This bill is not the improvement that we need. There is a bipartisan majority in the House ready to pass a bill that could go to the President today, be signed today.

We are now 4 weeks away from the time when we said, if we just had a 21-day extension, we would solve this problem. This problem needs to be solved. It needs to be solved now. I urge the majority to step back and bring a bill to the House that can pass and become law. [Page: H1749]

I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this replacement.

1:11 PM EDT

John Conyers Jr., D-MI 14th

Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I recognize an invaluable member of the Judiciary Committee, Keith Ellison from Minnesota, for 1 minute.

1:11 PM EDT

Keith Ellison, D-MN 5th

Mr. ELLISON. Mr. Speaker, today I rise to support the House Democratic FISA bill, a bill that provides for collection of data to protect America against people who would harm us, but also, and very importantly, provides court approval of acquisition and an ongoing process of review and oversight in order to protect Americans' privacy.

The bill goes beyond the RESTORE Act which we passed in the House, and I supported, by adopting statutory protections for U.S. persons overseas to ensure that surveillance of their communications are always conducted through the courts.

The House bill does not confer retroactive immunity on telecom carriers alleged to have participated under the President's warrantless surveillance program. It provides a mechanism for the carriers to assert existing immunity claims and to guarantee that they have a fair hearing in court currently prevented by the administration's assertion of the State secrets privilege.

In order to fully ascertain the scope and legality of the TSP, the House bill also creates a bipartisan commission on warrantless electronic surveillance activities with strong investigatory powers.

1:17 PM EDT

John Conyers Jr., D-MI 14th

Mr. CONYERS. I am pleased to yield 1 1/2 minutes to the gentlelady from California (Ms. Harman), a former member of the Intelligence Committee. I wish I could give her more time.

(Ms. HARMAN asked and was given permission to revise and extend her remarks.)

1:17 PM EDT

Jane Harman, D-CA 36th

Ms. HARMAN. My oldest grandchild, Lucy, is 2 today. She, my other two grandchildren, and my four children are never out of my thoughts as I wrestle with what are the right and wise security policies to protect our country.

I served 6 years on the Armed Services Committee, 8 on the Intelligence Committee, and 4 on the Homeland Security Committee where I chair its intelligence subcommittee.

I received so-called ``Gang of Eight'' briefings on the operational details of the terrorist surveillance program from 2003 to 2006, and I regularly receive classified threat briefings.

Some in this Chamber in both parties seek my views on security issues, and I hope my advice is helpful. On the matter before us it is as follows:

First, the world is very dangerous and we need to protect against threats.

Second, actions we take can and must comply fully with the rule of law. FISA has served us well for 30 years. Its framework is still sound.

Third, FISA does need some tweaking, but the technical changes are not controversial.

Fourth, FISA has already provided immunity for telecom firms which follow its provisions. Telecom firms are now protected under FISA.

Fifth, telecom firms are now complying with FISA.

And, sixth, press accounts, especially Monday's story in the Wall Street Journal, make clear there are other programs out there that haven't been told to Congress.

We can't pass retroactive immunity when we don't know what we're talking about.

So happy birthday, Lucy. May you grow up in a country with security and liberty.

Passing the bill before us is a good start.

1:18 PM EDT

Jane Harman, D-CA 36th

Ms. HARMAN. My oldest grandchild, Lucy, is 2 today. She, my other two grandchildren, and my four children are never out of my thoughts as I wrestle with what are the right and wise security policies to protect our country.

I served 6 years on the Armed Services Committee, 8 on the Intelligence Committee, and 4 on the Homeland Security Committee where I chair its intelligence subcommittee.

I received so-called ``Gang of Eight'' briefings on the operational details of the terrorist surveillance program from 2003 to 2006, and I regularly receive classified threat briefings.

Some in this Chamber in both parties seek my views on security issues, and I hope my advice is helpful. On the matter before us it is as follows:

First, the world is very dangerous and we need to protect against threats.

Second, actions we take can and must comply fully with the rule of law. FISA has served us well for 30 years. Its framework is still sound.

Third, FISA does need some tweaking, but the technical changes are not controversial.

Fourth, FISA has already provided immunity for telecom firms which follow its provisions. Telecom firms are now protected under FISA.

Fifth, telecom firms are now complying with FISA.

And, sixth, press accounts, especially Monday's story in the Wall Street Journal, make clear there are other programs out there that haven't been told to Congress.

We can't pass retroactive immunity when we don't know what we're talking about.

So happy birthday, Lucy. May you grow up in a country with security and liberty.

Passing the bill before us is a good start.

1:19 PM EDT

Mike Rogers, R-MI 8th

Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, two problems with where we're going: one is, this will, in effect, require intelligence officials to seek a Federal court warrant for foreign targets overseas. That is undeniable. Everybody in the intelligence community says it. The Senate even came across in a bipartisan bill, led by Democrats, who agree to the same principle and said that's the wrong direction to go to protect America.

The other serious problem: one of your great distinguished Members, ELIJAH CUMMINGS, took a courageous stand in a courageous moment when he had serious crime in his district in Baltimore. He went out, went on TV on a PSA and said, please cooperate with the local police to solve this crime. Please step up and cooperate so that we can solve these crimes together.

What we are effectively doing today, we're effectively telling businesses, large and small, and citizens from neighborhoods to corporate citizens to individual citizens, everybody who every day across America says, I will cooperate with law enforcement to solve crime because it's the right thing to do, you send an absolute chilling effect across. And I've heard this from businesses not related to this particular issue, telecom companies, companies who cooperate on kidnappings, companies that

cooperate on trying to find people who are fugitives, who have raped children, people who cooperate on catching drug dealers. They've said, you know, if you show up and ask me that, I want to help. But what this body is telling them, you might not be protected. It might not be just enough. And if you have enough money, and we have enough trial lawyers, you're going to find yourself in court.

So what these people are saying is, maybe I can't cooperate with my government anymore. Maybe I can't, in good faith, like good Samaritans have done all 200-plus years of this great Nation, come forward and say we are in this together. We are united to stop crime, to keep our homes and neighborhoods safe and to protect our country from terrorism.

The CIA case also said it's not good. The military leader said it's dangerous, [Page: H1750]

the intelligence community said it's dangerous, and so did the Democrats in the Senate. Let's join them and do this right.

1:21 PM EDT

John Conyers Jr., D-MI 14th

Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I'm going to recognize BARBARA LEE, but I want my dear friend from Michigan to know you cannot give retroactive immunity when you don't know what you're immunizing. That's the problem.

I turn now to the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, a distinguished civil rights fighter who has her own experiences, and we yield proudly to BARBARA LEE of California for 1 minute.

1:22 PM EDT

Barbara Lee, D-CA 9th

Ms. LEE. I want to thank Chairman Conyers and Chairman Reyes for bringing this legislation to the floor which does contain the safeguards necessary to protect the liberties of the American people, while giving the intelligence community powers to protect our Nation, which are very important in this bill.

Now, let me tell you, I know from personal experience about wiretaps during the J. Edgar Hoover period and the unwarranted domestic surveillance and wire tapping as a result of the Cointelpro program. Many innocent people, their lives were destroyed, personal information was gathered from innocent people, yes, including myself, who were no threat to national security. Dr. King and his family were the victims of government-sponsored wiretapping.

We must never go down this road again. So I fully support this bill because it explicitly declares that the FISA Court is the sole authority for electronic surveillance. It prohibits this reverse targeting. It also makes sure that we do not provide retroactive immunity to telecom companies that participated in any illegal spying by this administration.

This bill will protect America and, equally important, protect American civil liberties and values as guaranteed, mind you, guaranteed by the fourth amendment.

1:23 PM EDT

Peter Hoekstra, R-MI 2nd

Mr. HOEKSTRA. Mr. Speaker, Mr. Smith and I both have only one speaker remaining, so we would reserve our right to close in the order as determined.

1:24 PM EDT

Jay Inslee, D-WA 1st

Mr. INSLEE. Mr. Speaker, from time to time, we are called to, again, define what it means to be an American. And this is never more so than when security concerns threaten our commitment to liberty. And at those moments, at this moment, we need to be imbued with the spirit of 1776, a spirit against tyranny, a spirit that recognizes that the rule of law is the ultimate bulwark of liberty.

A Nation that threw off the shackles of King George should never yield to an executive who seeks to trample on the rule of law. Whether it was inconvenient, whether it was bothersome, whether it was frustrating, we should never yield to an executive who believes himself above the rule of law. We should never yield to an Executive that, instead of coming to Congress to change a law, simply decides to ignore it.

We are nothing without this commitment. We are everything with it. Stand for liberty. Pass this bill.

1:26 PM EDT

Jan Schakowsky, D-IL 9th

Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. This FISA legislation is proof that we can protect the American people, keep our country and our families safe without violating American's civil liberties. The Republicans have posed a false choice, tried to convince us, the American people, that the only way to protect this country from terrorists is to sacrifice our civil liberties, particularly when it comes to this administration perhaps illegally telling the telecommunications companies to share our private communications

with them.

The Republicans want to wave a wand, grant amnesty to the phone companies, retroactive immunity to turn over information about their customers, not only letting the companies off the hook, but protecting the administration from judicial scrutiny about its warrantless surveillance programs.

This program, this legislation that we have introduced, is a fair way to resolve this conflict issue.

1:27 PM EDT

Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX 18th

Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Having heard all of the answers to all of the questions that have been raised by the opposition, knowing that full justice, civil liberties and the protection is in this bill, I rise in support of the underlying bill.

1:28 PM EDT

Peter Hoekstra, R-MI 2nd

Mr. HOEKSTRA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.

What is this Congress thinking? Some of my colleagues are scaring the American people into believing that the men and women in the intelligence community are spying on them. In reality, our intelligence professionals are focused solely on identifying and stopping the threat from radical jihadists.

What's this Congress thinking? Some of my colleagues want to reward opportunist trial lawyers who are suing the very companies that stood up in America's hour of need. We should recognize what these companies did and protect them from these frivolous lawsuits.

What is this Congress thinking? Some of the key leadership in this House, including this current Speaker, were fully briefed and involved in developing the strategies that were implemented to keep America safe in the aftermath of 9/11. Now some are running from those decisions. They should take responsibility for their actions.

[Time: 13:30]

At the funerals last week for the victims of the recent terrorist attack in Jerusalem, Rabbi Shapira delivered a eulogy charging the government with not doing enough to keep Israel safe, for not delivering the strong leadership to face down a deadly enemy. That same enemy wants to attack America.

The 9/11 Commission said, ``Terrorists could acquire without great expense communications devices that were varied, global, instantaneous, complex, and encrypted.''

As Rabbi Shapira last week questioned the leadership of his country, and in light of what the 9/11 Commission told us years ago, I ask the leadership of this House are we doing enough.

Is the 2001 FISA law adequate? The answer has been, and continues to be, a resounding ``no.''

Are we doing enough to protect America, our troops, and our allies, when we go home without finishing this crucial work on intelligence surveillance? Is it acceptable to have our intelligence capabilities continue to erode? Continuing down this path is dangerous.

I hope that when we return, America will not have its own Rabbi Shapira, our own Rabbi Shapira asking, Why did Congress go home without finishing its work? Why didn't the Democratic Congress do better? Why didn't the House recognize the danger and the threat?

We should complete this work today. We should vote on the Senate bill. Why are we going home? Why are we going home with the work unfinished one more time?

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.

1:33 PM EDT

Lamar S. Smith, R-TX 21st

Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from California (Mr. Daniel E. Lungren), a member of the Judiciary Committee and a member of the Homeland Security Committee.

1:33 PM EDT

Dan Lungren, R-CA 3rd

Mr. DANIEL E. LUNGREN of California. Mr. Speaker, oftentimes what is said on this floor reveals the differences between the two parties or the difference between the two approaches. The gentleman who just spoke before me made an allegation about the breathtaking and overwhelming nature of the President's request for information. Frankly, I thought what was at stake at the time was the breathtaking and overwhelming threat that this Nation faced after 9/11. That's what the President was responding

to. That's what the President utilized in his request of American companies that come to the aid of their country. And here we stand saying we cannot reward them except to give them lawsuits.

The gentleman from Texas (Mr. Reyes) says if the companies are innocent, as if there is some question. I sat through all of those briefings. There is, in my judgment, not one iota of evidence that the companies acted inappropriately whatsoever. Not one iota of evidence sitting there after question after question after question; yet, on this floor, we raised the very question of those companies by saying if they are innocent. And what does Mr. Reyes say? If they are innocent,

then it will be decided the good old American way: Go to court.

Well, I'm a lawyer, but I don't think most Americans think the American way in every instance is to go to court. If you look at the legislation we have before us, it is rewarding the Good Samaritans with a lawsuit.

There is a fig leaf here, yes. Now the majority side says, You know, there is a problem that we have to address with respect to telecommunications companies. That's progress, because when we were arguing on the floor with your previous provisions, you didn't even admit that. Now you do it, and now you say we are going to take care of it by the State's secrets doctrine and by going to a secret court proceeding.

It is a fig leaf to allow Members to vote for a bill you know is never going to become law. It is not effective. How do I know? Twenty-five attorneys general of the United States say it doesn't work. They say support the provision that's contained in the Senate bill. Democrats and Republicans alike from Texas, from North Carolina, from Oklahoma, from Florida, from Alabama, Arkansas, Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode

Island, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, Utah, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

No, Mr. Speaker, the President is not wrong. No, Mr. Speaker, he is not doing this to protect himself. He's doing it as these attorneys general of the United States recognize to allow us to go forward in protecting the American people.

Don't harm these telecommunications companies with friendly fire.

1:36 PM EDT

John Conyers Jr., D-MI 14th

Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, it's my privilege to yield the balance of our time to the majority leader, STENY HOYER, whose legal expertise has held him in good stead over the months that we've worked on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.