PATRIOT ACT PROTECTIONS -- (House of Representatives - July 21, 2005)
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Iowa. He has done such a wonderful job on the Committee on the Judiciary. I had the opportunity to serve with him on that committee last Congress, and I appreciate his wisdom, his expertise, and just his common sense way of approaching legislation.
So often he will say that he was out on his tractor thinking about this, that, or the other, and let me tell you what I think. I think there are many of my constituents in Tennessee that certainly relate to how he goes about that thinking process, and we appreciate that.
Mr. Speaker, we did pass the PATRIOT Act today and reauthorize that. We did this with bipartisan support. I would remind the body this is one in a continuing string of items of legislation that have been passed with bipartisan support in this body. Whether it be bankruptcy reform or extension of the death tax, the energy bill or the highway bill, I could go on and on. Supplemental budget, the REAL ID Act, we have done it with bipartisan support.
I think there is a reason that the minority votes with the leadership of this House and the majority on our agenda, and it is because the leadership of this House is in touch with what the American people think, what is on their mind, what they are focusing on.
One of the things that we know that they are focusing on is security, whether it be moral security or economic security or health care security or homeland security; and our focus today has been on homeland security.
The gentleman from Iowa (Mr. King) is right, today with bipartisan support we reauthorized the PATRIOT Act. We did it with good reason. We did it because it is a cornerstone and an important part of fighting and winning the war on terror. And winning is something we have to be certain we do.
Now, there are a couple of points that I did want to make, and I appreciate the gentleman yielding me this time. We heard quite a bit of bravado today about abuses, and we have a poster here. The PATRIOT Act, section 223 of the PATRIOT Act allows individuals to sue the Federal Government for money damages if a Federal official discloses sensitive information without authorization. Number of lawsuits filed against the government: zero. And the source on this is the Department of Justice.
One of my colleagues earlier said let us look at the PATRIOT Act by the numbers. This is a pretty important piece to remember. This is there for a reason, and it is important.
Here are some more PATRIOT Act facts by the numbers. One of the things that I would like to call attention to is the third point. Since the attacks on 9/11, the people arrested by the Department of Justice as a result of international terrorism investigations, 395; convictions, 212. This is so important for us to keep in mind because this shows the PATRIOT Act is working. There is a reason for this. There is a reason that we have that.
The gentleman from Iowa (Mr. King) has talked about, and the gentleman from Texas talked about, the libraries and the importance of having access to the library records. The other night as we were discussing the PATRIOT Act, we talked about you had to have a court order. It is not just the ability to go in and say let me look at So-and-So's records. There is a process. It is the same process which has been in place for years. When we were looking at drug kings and racketeering, our Federal agents would use those powers at that point, always going to a judge, always receiving that permission.
But we know and we have had testimony given that some of the suspected 9/11 hijackers actually went in and used public libraries. We do not want our public libraries to become safe havens for terrorists. Those are the reasons for those provisions.
All in all the PATRIOT Act is one of those items that will add to achieving the security that we want here in our homes, in our communities, in our schools, in our public places and gathering places. It is another tool that can be used by our intelligence community, our defense community, and our law enforcement community to be certain they gather information and have the ability to share information that is necessary to keep this Nation safe.
I again thank the members of the Committee on the Judiciary, and I thank the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner) for the excellent work that was done on this bill, bringing it to the floor; and I thank the members who voted and supported and worked in a bipartisan manner to see this finished today.
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