PROTECT AMERICA ACT EXPIRES, CONGRESS TAKES VACATION
Former Congressman Jeb Bradley Takes Aim at Congress's Gap in Work During Gap in American Security
Congress has adjourned for 10 days during its President's Day recess, just in time to let one of America's most important security measures lapse. "Even though Congress has met for a total of only 12 days in 2008, its members felt it was time for a vacation, adjourning without completing work on the renewal of the Protect America Act," noted Jeb Bradley, Candidate for the 1st Congressional District of NH. "The law expires tonight and Congress chose to leave its post before the job was done, potentially putting America's security in danger."
The Protect America Act (PAA) was passed, and authorized for six months, in August of last year in order to close a dangerous loophole that forced national security officials to seek special warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court to intercept communications from suspected foreign terrorists in foreign countries. The law applies only to foreigners operating in foreign countries.
"For any surveillance to be conducted on Americans, court issued warrants are and should be required. But in today's fast paced digital telecommunications era, when American soldiers are deployed around the world to keep our nation safe, it is logical that foreign terror suspects operating in foreign nations not be accorded the same rights as Americans," Bradley said.
The sticking point in the House is immunity for telecommunication companies that cooperated with the government after the 911 attacks to prevent further terrorism. There are some 40 pending lawsuits filed against AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. "What company would ever cooperate again with the government if subject to class action lawsuits that could overwhelm that company?" Bradley questioned.
Writing in the Washington Post recently, Mike McConnell the Director of National Intelligence stated, "Intelligence leaders have repeatedly testified that providing retroactive liability protection is critical to carrying out our mission. We are experiencing significant difficulties in working with the private sector today because of the continued failure to address this issue."
"So while Congress adjourns for 10 days, a dangerous gap in intelligence gathering capability now increases the risk of terror attacks and undermines the safety of Americans," concluded Bradley.