As a way to keep you better informed, I would like to let you know that I voted in support of S. 990, a bill to extend for four years three expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act that were scheduled to expire on May 27, 2011. I supported this legislation for the following reasons:
The PATRIOT Act is Constitutional by Any Standard: Listed below are the three provisions which the House voted to extend with my support. All of these provisions are constitutional by any standard.
Roving Wiretaps (Section 206). Roving surveillance is an important tool used to catch an adaptive enemy. Without roving wiretap authority, investigators would be forced to seek a new court order each time they need to change the location, phone, or computer that needs to be monitored, wasting valuable time. Roving wiretaps are nothing new. Domestic law enforcement agencies have had roving authority for criminal investigations since 1986. A Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court Judge is the only one who can authorize a roving wiretap.
* Constitutionality: Unchallenged.
The Business Records Provision (Section 215). One of the expiring sections of the PATRIOT Act relates to business records and has stricter requirements than grand jury subpoenas used in criminal investigations. Under this provision, business records can only be obtained through an order granted by a federal judge of a court created under FISA. Business records obtained under Section 215 are records generated and stored by 3rd party businesses and are not personal documents of the target. This section of the law was reformed in 2005.
* Constitutionality: Challenge withdrawn. See Muslim Community Association v. Ashcroft, 459 F.Supp.2d 592 (E.D. Mich. 2006).
The Lone Wolf Provision (Section 6001 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA)). The third provision deals with "lone wolf" terror agents and is needed to combat changes in al Qaeda's tactics--inspiring others to commit terror instead of actively recruiting members into the organization. Prior to 9/11, there was no law allowing for the government to gather intelligence on these lone wolves. The law should not create a gaping loop hole for these terrorists simply because they do not belong to an identified group. Lone wolf authority cannot be used against a U.S. Citizen or legal permanent resident. This section of the law was passed in 2004.
* Constitutionality: Unchallenged.
Bipartisan Support. These tools were used during the previous administration, and nothing demonstrates their importance more than the explicit support for their extension by President Obama.
Thorough Review. The House Judiciary Committee, of which I am a Member, conducted an oversight hearing and full committee markup of the three provisions in question.
My Most Basic Duty. My most basic duty as your congressman is to protect the people I represent. The Congressional Oath of Office states: "I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic "
The World Has Changed. My vote is an acknowledgment that the world we live in today is very different than it was before September 11, 2001.
This Vote is Not Related to NSLs. This vote has nothing to do with the problems associated with National Security Letters (NSLs).
Protecting American Lives. A significant number of attacks have been avoided because of these three PATRIOT Act provisions, and they must be extended to continue to protect the American people. The PATRIOT Act is saving lives. If these provisions are allowed to lapse the American people will be more vulnerable.
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Thank you very much for reading.
Member of Congress