CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 3199, USA PATRIOT IMPROVEMENT AND REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - December 14, 2005)
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Mr. DeFAZIO. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Listeners should realize that truth is not required in debate on the floor of the House. The chairman of the Rules Committee stood up here and said there has not been one complaint about the use of the PATRIOT Act, or the abuse. He should talk to Brandon Mayfield from Portland, Oregon, who was considered to be a perpetrator of the Madrid bombing and they used the PATRIOT Act to accumulate the nonevidence about him. The government has subsequently apologized, and he sued the government, but I guess that is not a complaint.
Maybe we are not hearing the complaints because librarians, bookstore owners, and business owners can themselves be prosecuted if they tell anybody that there was an unwarranted gathering of records about innocent Americans from them. So, yeah, I guess there is sort of a dearth of complaints.
Then there is the other gentleman. He said, well, we can change this later. We heard that when we passed the first PATRIOT Act, which no Member of the House of Representatives had read, at 10 o'clock in the morning with one copy available on each side of the aisle. We said it sunsets; you can change it later. Now is later. It is time to change it. Guess what? They say well, no, we can't change it now; we might change it later after we make it permanent now. Before it was temporary; we are going to change it later. Now, it is permanent, maybe we will change it later.
Come on. Let's be honest about this debate. You are jamming this through on behalf of the White House and the Attorney General. They want this. It is bad legislation. It threatens the civil liberties of Americans, and I believe it will impinge on our investigation and finding of terrorists.
These national security letters, 30,000 national security letters, gathering huge amounts of data about the lives of innocent Americans. In the past, that would have to be discarded. Now they say, well, we're going to keep it; but don't worry, all the information we're going to accumulate about people, innocent Americans, is going to go into a databank; but it will only be available to the Federal Government, State government, local governments, tribal governments and appropriate private entities. I guess there is one person in America who might not be able to tap into this databank.
This is going to create such a huge haystack of irrelevant information about the lives of innocent Americans that the FBI, who had one terrorist in hand, Musawi, and had an agent in Arizona pointing at the plot, could not even see their hand in front of their face. Now we are going to create a huge mountain of irrelevant data about innocent people and this is somehow going to improve how they perform in finding terrorists in America? I don't think so.
Then the most cynical thing about this bill is to take a meritorious bill that deals with methamphetamine precursors and trafficking, that passed separately in this House of Representatives, which I supported, and they are going to include it as part of this legislation in a cynical ploy to somehow basically force, bully, or trick people into supporting the underlying legislation with its unwarranted attack on the Bill of Rights, the Constitution of America, the foundation of our government, the gathering secretly of information about innocent Americans, and the permanent retention of that information for no good purpose.
This is bad legislation. The time has come to change it. It should be defeated, and we should change it now.