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Public Statements

FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Thank you, Mr. Ranking Member.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 5949, which, without benefit of one oversight hearing by the full Judiciary Committee during the 112th Congress, wants to, for 5 long years, reauthorize expiring provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act without important modifications that are necessary to safeguard the civil liberties and the privacy rights of American citizens.

Although H.R. 5949 is designed to defend the United States against international terrorism and other threats, it has been reported that FISA has resulted in the illegal surveillance of untold numbers of American citizens through data accumulation, also known as overcollection of voice and data communications. Overcollection occurs when the voice and data of American citizens is collected incidentally to the collection of communications of foreigners.

What happens to the data and voice communications of Americans that is incidentally collected without a warrant? What happens to it? What happens to the private voice and data of Americans when it's minimized? These are critical questions, and they deserve critical answers. But as I've said, we've not had one oversight hearing in the full Judiciary Committee on this issue. We've just simply had a markup of this reauthorization bill.

These, and other questions, deserve answers. The Fourth Amendment would ordinarily protect the communications of American citizens. It prohibits unreasonable and warrantless searches and seizures of the communications of American citizens, including warrantless eavesdropping and snooping. But under H.R. 5949, no warrant or showing of probable cause exists where information is overcollected.

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