Blackburn on The Protect America Act
No Partisan Interest Before American Security
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) attended a late night "secret session" of the House here tonight. The session, which gave members an opportunity to openly discuss top-secret intelligence gathering regulations, left Congressman Blackburn convinced that Congress must act immediately to permanently restore Protect America Act provisions; giving the intelligence community the tools and flexibility they need to protect Americans from future terrorist attack. Blackburn urges her colleagues to embrace the bipartisan legislation that the Senate approved nearly a month ago, rather than the law currently before the House, and send it to the President for his signature.
Congressman Blackburn plans to speak on the matter today during the House debate on the issue. Below are her remarks as prepared for delivery:
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 bipartisan legislation adopted by the Senate and endorsed by our nation's national security experts, the liberal elite of this House instead brings forward a $72,440,904 thank you note to their trial attorney contributors.
Why $72,440,904 you ask? That is the amount that trial attorneys have contributed to Democrat candidates in the 2008 election cycle.
But might it be only a down payment for the potential liability interest that trial attorneys will win if the Majority has its way and the House adopts this earmark bill?
This begs the question: at what cost? A real-world example will help reveal the answer: Last year, three American soldiers were kidnapped in Iraq. Operating under the old FISA rules, it took over nine hours for the intelligence community to get permission to intercept communications that might help rescuers. The communications, mind you, were between foreign terrorists in a foreign country. Under the Senate-approved FISA bill, that time would be far shorter. In this context, wasted hours can cost lives. Two of the soldiers I mentioned above are still missing, the third was later found dead.
This is the same outdated language our intelligence community is functioning under RIGHT NOW, and would still be in place if the Democrats have their way today.
Is this the appropriate way to address electronics surveillance in the 21st Century, when terrorists use American-made wireless technology to target and kill American citizens? I think not.
Mr. Speaker, our wireless surveillance laws must reflect the technological reality of 2008, not 1978.
We now use satellite phones, not rotary phones; text messages, not telegrams. This bill fails to recognize reality, and in turn robs our national security professionals of the tools, real-time access, and agility they need to protect American citizens.
Our men and women in uniform have to get it right every time; the terrorists only need to get it right once. This legislation will make our job more difficult, all for a $72,440,904 bill of sale to a special interest group. That, Mr. Speaker, is unconscionable. Vote against this deplorable earmark for trial lawyers, and let's instead pass the Protect America Act. I yield back.