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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 5544, Minnesota Education Investment and Employment Act, and Providing for Consideration of H.R. 5949, FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. NUGENT. Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of this rule, which provides for consideration of two different pieces of legislation.

The first of these bills transfers lands within the State of Minnesota to the benefit of the State's public school system. The rule provides for consideration of each and every amendment offered by Members to the Rules Committee by the amendment deadline.

The next measure this rule allows for consideration of is H.R. 5949, the FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012. Also called the FAA Reauthorization, this legislation would reauthorize programs that are critically important to our national security.

First passed in 2008, FAA has enjoyed a history of strong bipartisan support. Now, President Obama and his administration have made it clear that a clean, long-term extension of FAA is their number one intelligence priority. That's exactly what H.R. 5949 does.

Recognizing that our Nation's security cannot and should not wait until an emergency, the 11th hour, or rushed reauthorization, the Select Intelligence and Judiciary Committees have had hearings on the FAA's reauthorization, they've marked up the bill, and they've sent it to us months ahead of the expiration deadline. I congratulate both of these committees on their timely and dedicated work for the sake of our own safety.

It is with the tools that the FAA provides to our intelligence community that we're able to monitor our Nation's enemies overseas. Without this authority, the ability to track those individuals who aren't American citizens and want to do harm to this country would return to the state it was in before September 11 of 2001.

I really want to stress that the FISA Amendments Act applies to targeting non-U.S. citizens living outside of the United States.

The FAA also enhances civil liberty protections for Americans. The government cannot target an American overseas without first obtaining an individualized court order from the FISA Court. Prior to FAA, the government was not required to obtain an individualized court order to target U.S. persons outside of the United States. This is an expansion of the civil liberties made possible by the FISA Amendments Act.

As a former law enforcement officer, I know how important it is to get the information that we need to work on a case. Without good, reliable information, you can't do your job and protect the citizens, but the information must be obtained in the right way.

FAA is a critical tool at our international community's disposal in our war against terrorism.

I encourage my colleagues to join me in supporting our national security by voting for the FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. NUGENT. Madam Speaker, a number of issues that my good friend from Colorado brought up cover both bills, actually. One, obviously, is the Minnesota bill as relates to public education. That was passed by the Minnesota State Legislature in a bipartisan way, and it was also signed by the Democratic Governor of Minnesota in regards to this particular issue on this particular bill as it relates to Minnesota.

With that, I'm going to yield 7 minutes to the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Cravaack).

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Mr. NUGENT. Madam Speaker, I certainly do appreciate the gentleman's comments because, as a former law enforcement officer, I want to make sure that we protect Americans. But I'm not so sure I want to protect those in foreign countries that are not Americans, those in foreign countries that would do harm to America, like they did on this day 11 years ago.

You know, FISA--our good friend mentioned about 2008, but prior to 2008, Americans could be entrapped within the FISA context.

In 2008, that changed. What it said is that, if Americans become involved in a FISA investigation in which their names come up, the information comes up, it has to be minimized. Then they have to go to a Federal judge and to the FISA court to get an authorization to do what they need to do as it relates to a warrant in order to receive and recover that information. That's what 2008 did. What the President has asked is that we just continue to do what we did since 2008. The protections that were put in place for American citizens that were not there prior to 2008 are to be extended. That's the intent of the reauthorization act of the FAA.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. NUGENT. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, we have heard a lot, particularly as it relates to FISA. I want to clarify and make sure everyone understands that the FAA authorizes the targeting of non-U.S. citizens who are overseas. They are not citizens of the United States. Thus, they don't have the protections under the United States Constitution--nor should they.

If an American becomes a target during the investigation, just as in a criminal investigation when I was sheriff and someone became a target during a wiretap, we then have to identify that person. If we want to go after him, if we want to eavesdrop on his conversations, we have to get a separate order to allow us to do that. Back in 1978, when this was first put in place--guess what?--if an American were picked up in one of these wiretap operations, there was no requirement to go back and get a separate authorization to go after that American citizen. But 2008 changed that. 2008 put in a particular protection for American citizens who may get caught up in a FISA investigation in regards to the collection of data or voice transmissions. That's the difference.

So, when people start talking about it as it relates to civil liberties, if you live in a foreign country, you don't have civil liberties with us if you're plotting against the United States. That's the whole identification reference to this: that it's a foreign country and a non-U.S. citizen.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. NUGENT. I yield myself the balance of my time.

Madam Speaker, I've heard my good friend from Colorado. Maybe he wasn't serving on the Judiciary Committee this summer, but prior to this being vetted within the Judiciary Committee, all the members there were offered a classified briefing as it relates to FISA. Every member had the opportunity to attend that. As I said, I'm not sure if Mr. Polis was a member of that Judiciary Committee at the time it was offered to all. As a matter of fact, yesterday, at the Rules Committee, the ranking Democratic member of the Intelligence Committee, Mr. Ruppersberger, pointed out to the Rules Committee that, at any time, any Member of this House can request a classified briefing--any Member.

He wanted to make sure that this didn't become a political football. He admonished all of us not to make this a political statement, but to do what's right for this country.

I hear time and time again from my good friend as this relates to civil liberties of Americans. If you look back to 2008, that was rectified. Prior to that I would tell you that the civil liberties of Americans were in jeopardy, but in 2008, that was corrected, and it's continued on in this reauthorization of 2012.

Once again, the FISA court is comprised of U.S. District Federal judges, and they also have a right to appeal to a court of review made up of Federal judges. The information, as Mr. Ruppersberger said, is if you want a briefing requested, if you want additional information in a classified setting requested, every Member has that opportunity. As a matter of fact, in the Intelligence Committee, there wasn't one opposing vote. Democrats and Republicans alike came together and said this is what's important to keep America safe. They don't want to have another 9/11 on their watch. At the same time, we want to protect all Americans.

When people start throwing this around and saying this is an assault on American civil liberties, that's just not right, it's not correct, and it's wrong because this bill does everything to protect Americans from intrusion into their private lives. It forces the Federal Government to go back to court if it uncovers through these surveillance techniques activities by an American citizen who's doing something wrong as it relates to terrorism against this country. It gives them a process to do it because, prior to 2008, they could do it without abandon. They could wind up collecting any information on U.S. citizens. In 2008, that changed and rightfully so. There should be constraints on the Federal Government.

I heard also there's no checks and balances. That's just not true. Every 60 days there's a report done in reference to FISA in regards to the intercepts. Twice a year, there's an automatic report that has to be generated that goes to Congress. And at any time, the Judiciary Committee and the Intelligence Committee can hold hearings--and they do--as it relates to classified information, as it relates to FISA. That's oversight. That's what we're supposed to do.

And the reason they say this is secret--well, guess what, it's not secret, but it's kept under wraps because of this: if we tell our techniques to our enemies, then guess what? They'll figure out a way to circumvent so they can get the information, pass the information, and conspire against this country. That's the reason in law enforcement we don't give up our techniques because the bad guys will figure it out. They're pretty smart folks. They have time on their hands. What we don't want to do is give them time on their hands to assault the United States of America, kill our citizens, kill and injure those first responders, and then put our military at risk.

This is directed to those that live outside of this country, those that are not American citizens. Let me make this perfectly clear. Besides all the rhetoric of those who would love to inflame different people as it relates to this, this has nothing do with American citizens, except if they do get caught up in a conversation with someone who is a foreign national that it does have to go back to court to get that specific authorization to record or transmit that information as it relates to them.

Madam Speaker, I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this rule and bring these two very important pieces of legislation to the House floor for a vote. If there's one duty that is inherently part of our Federal Government's core mission, it's to provide for our national security. None is more important than making sure that this Republic survives.

The FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization is a key tool in keeping our Nation safe. We heard it from both sides of the aisle who testified in front of the Rules Committee yesterday. As we continue to fight terrorists around the world who want nothing more than to harm our Nation, the FAA gives our intelligence community the tools they need to track these enemies overseas. That's the important word, ``overseas.'' We can't give up that fight, which is why we need to keep using the information we have access to. The FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization balances this need for security with civil liberty protections for Americans living abroad. It keeps us safe at home while protecting Americans living around the world.

I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue the bipartisan tradition of supporting the FAA and to vote for this bill.

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