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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 11, 2008
Statement by the Press Secretary on FISA
House Democratic leaders are subverting the will of a bipartisan majority of House members by failing to allow a vote on the Senate FISA bill - a bill which received overwhelming bipartisan support by a vote of 68 to 29.
Now, after weeks of inaction, the House appears to be taking a step backward and plans to introduce a bill that will deprive our intelligence professionals of the tools they need to protect the country from terrorist attack. If reports are accurate, the House Democratic leadership's proposal has a number of serious flaws which would make it dead on arrival.
The proposal intends to put in place a cumbersome court approval process that could delay collecting intelligence on foreign terrorists, which could cause us to lose vital intelligence.
The authorities to conduct foreign surveillance - inadequate as they are - would sunset in less than two years. Our intelligence professionals cannot do their jobs effectively if the tools they use are continuously expiring.
The bill also fails to provide liability protection to companies believed to have helped defend the country after 9/11.
As the bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded, the failure to extend liability protection will undermine the private sector's willingness to help the Intelligence Community do its job. Without the assistance of the private sector, our intelligence agencies will be hobbled in their efforts to protect the country from attack.
It is clear that House Democratic leaders have once again bowed to the demands of class-action trial lawyers, MoveOn.org, and Code Pink and put their ideological interests ahead of the national interest. The priorities of House leaders are dangerously misplaced. Instead of providing liability protection to companies that did their patriotic duty, House leaders would establish a commission to examine intelligence activities in the past that helped protect the country from further attacks after 9/11.
We can draw only one conclusion from this - House leaders are more interested in playing politics with past efforts to protect the country than they are in preventing terrorist attacks in the future.
House Democratic leaders appear to have forgotten that the Administration has already briefed, among others, the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees on these intelligence activities and provided access to related documents. There is no good reason for additional review by a commission.
House Democratic leaders know that this proposal is unacceptable to the Intelligence Community, the U.S. Senate, and the Administration. It is time for House Democratic leaders to get serious about our national security, put aside these partisan games, and bring the bipartisan Senate bill to a vote immediately.
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