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Patriot Act Protections

Location: Washington, DC

PATRIOT ACT PROTECTIONS -- (House of Representatives - July 21, 2005)


Mr. CARTER. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Iowa for yielding to me. Mr. Speaker, I too would like to address the comments that were made here just recently in this House just briefly.

We keep hearing this tirade that there is someone that is taking away liberty, taking away freedom in this country with the PATRIOT Act. And you heard the comments that they can go into all of your records and they do not tell you about it. As if just any old ordinary policeman or FBI agent could go out there with no control whatsoever and search your home, search your records and so forth. And they give that impression to the American public by their statements here tonight.

Nothing could be further from the truth. And they know that nothing could be further from the truth because

they sat through the 12-hour hearing that was held in the Committee on the Judiciary. They examined every one of these various sections that we have gone through tonight in heavy detail, and they know that there certainly are provisions where somebody oversees whether there is, in fact, probable cause for a search warrant to be issued. A judge makes that decision. That is the same judge that makes the decision in every case of a search warrant in the history of the United States. This is how we do search warrants. And he makes that decision.

What they are trying to make an inference on is they have this thing they call a sneak-and-peek warrant that they have entitled it. And they say that so it sounds like I said the other night, like we are talking about some kind of Peeping Tom.

That is not it at all. This is a device that has been used in criminal justice for many, many years. It is very simple, Mr. Speaker. This is not complex stuff. I will give you an example.

We have a warrant that says that in a drug case there is a suspicion that there is a methamphetamine speed lab in a certain building, and they have someone who gives them good evidence to that effect. They present it to the judge. He finds there is probable cause to believe there is a speed lab and stored drugs in the certain location. He sets out specifically in that warrant what exactly they are to go look for. And they go and they look, and sure enough there is a speed lab in that building. Sure enough there are drugs and the ingredients for making more drugs in that building. But they also discover there is no one there. And what are we trying to do here?

We are trying to get these drugs off the street, and we are trying to catch the people that are poisoning our children. And that is what the criminal justice system is trying to do in that case. And so they back off. They back off and they watch and they wait, so the perpetrators, and hopefully from top to bottom, from the mules that deliver it to the king pins that finance it, are somehow connected with that lab. And when they have gathered that evidence as a result of this look at this building maybe in a day, maybe a little longer, they come in and they seize them on the premises. They have the evidence, and they get convictions from top to bottom and get this vermin off the streets of America.

Now, if we use this to get the vermin off the streets of America that are doing drugs and poisoning our children, why in the world would we not use that same tool to get the enemies of America who are embedded, in many instances, in our country off the street and keep them from killing innocent American citizens?

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing more vile on Earth than the terrorists, absolutely nothing. They have no credibility in any way, form, or fashion because they are not human beings enough to fight a real fight with somebody that can fight back. You never see these terrorists out there trying to get in a knock down drag out punch out one-on-one with anybody. They hide and sneak and skulk up and down alleys and plant bombs and kill innocent human beings who they do not even know or care about. And they kill them by the hundreds and occasionally, like in the World Trade Center, by the thousands.

Just today, praise God, a faulty bomb did not go off entirely in Great Britain. We are still waiting to find out the damage that was done. Again, Great Britain, the United Kingdom, has been attacked by these terrorists.

Mr. Speaker, what is wrong with the picture that I have just painted to fight these terrorists? I say there is nothing wrong with it. It has been a procedure used by the law forever. And yet we hear from someone that it paints the picture as if somebody is totally walking all over people's rights without any warrant.

You never heard him say, they get a warrant to go in and look at your records. They get a warrant and go in and look at your premises. You did not hear that spoken from the other side here tonight. So the American public gets deceived into thinking that there are police officers and law enforcement officers walking all over their rights. That is not the case. It is the same way we always have handled it. We have a search warrant.

It just infuriates me, having worked in the courts for 20 years, for people to step up and make statements that hide the real truth of the matter with regard to the procedures we use in our courts. I am proud to have been a judge for 20 years. I am proud of the American judicial system. I am proud of the law enforcement officers that every day put their lives in harm's way. I am proud of the lawyers fighting terror in this country right now. Just like our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, those brave men and women that put their lives on the line, our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line, too, fighting these horrible vermin right here in our country. I am offended, and I think we should all be really suspicious of someone who gives us only a partial truth and not the whole story.

I would be glad to have anybody look at my library records. Who cares what is in your library records? But you do care when you find out that terrorists go to libraries because they believe, sometimes truly and sometimes falsely, that if they get on a computer at a library that every day they clean the hard drive of that computer. They know if they seize their computer back home they might be able to find out they were talking to al Qaeda and to their operatives overseas. But if they go to the public library and use that computer and it gets erased every day, who is going to know?

Well, I tell you who is going to know. The law enforcement officer that executes that warrant and examines that hard drive to find out that they were doing that. They should not be able to hide in one of our greatest institutions, a public library. Benjamin Franklin, one of the founders of this country, gave us the concept of the public library in the United States. Why should our enemies think they can hide in a public library on a computer or in the stacks reading their bomb manuals and we cannot find out about it, especially when we have gone through the proper ordinary procedures that every court goes through to be able to seek those records.

And, in fact, there are more procedures in the PATRIOT Act protecting those records than there would be if you went to a grand jury and got a grand jury subpoena to get the exact same information. So let us not have partial stories told here in this House tonight. Let us have the whole story. And the whole story is we have taken and given to the intelligence community and those who are defending us from terrorists the same tools we have given to law enforcement over the years to protect us from the vermin that would destroy us from within. Now we can use it against our enemies from without who are hiding within our country to protect the American citizens so that people can get up and go to work in the morning and raise their children and go to the park at night and not be afraid that some creep is going to blow up the means of transportation that they are on.

That, Mr. Speaker, is what a patriot in this country ought to be concerned about. That is what I think we have done here tonight. We have reaffirmed the tools of the war against terror within the United States and given our law enforcement officers weapons just like those rifles that our soldiers are carrying in Afghanistan that will protect our freedom.

We should never be ashamed for what we did here today. We should be proud. And I am proud that a bipartisan effort passed through this House of Representatives. I think that we can count the numbers and we will see that that is the truth, as the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. King) said.

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for allowing me to have a chance to stand up here for just a few minutes. I do want to point out one more thing before I stop. I served on that Committee on the Judiciary for 2 years, and I served side-by-side with my colleague here, the gentleman from Iowa. In fact, we were partners right there at each other's elbow. I can tell you that the chairman, the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner) runs a perfectly tight ship in his committee. When he says the rules are going to be abided by, they are abided by.

I will also say this. I will defy anybody to check the record. He never gave a member of the Republican matter one extra second in their time limit, but he constantly gave extra time to the minority. And almost every day I served on that committee, they would ask for additional time and he granted it. I personally have asked for additional time on that committee and he did not allow me to have that additional time. I think his reason is clear. We are the majority. We know the rules. We should get our job done within the time limit. And I respected him for it.

But the facts are, they have had advantages in that committee and they are in here crying like we did not treat them fairly. Mr. Speaker, that is not true.

I had better calm down here and thank my friend from Iowa and give him the opportunity to talk for a while, and I thank my colleagues for being patient with me.

Mr. KING of Iowa. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the presentation of the gentleman from Texas here tonight and his service here in the Congress. In the time we have served together on the committee I came to know the gentleman's ability, and the way that the gentleman has spoken to the issue of Chairman Sensenbrenner and how he handles that committee, the gentleman and I share that belief and respect for the way he has handled it.

We have a PATRIOT Act that has passed the floor of this Congress tonight because of the way it has been handled through that committee. And it will protect Americans for a long, long time to come.

Mr. CARTER. It is, and it is something we should be very proud of, and I am personally proud and I know the gentleman is too.

Mr. KING of Iowa. I certainly am.


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