NATIONAL SECURITY -- (House of Representatives - February 14, 2006)
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Mr. CARTER. I thank the gentlewoman from Tennessee and all those who gather here today to talk about our national security.
One of the things that has been bothering me here recently, there was a movie that just came out called War of the Worlds, and in that movie they were flipping cars around and the space invaders were coming around, and you saw the fear and panic on the faces of the people on the streets as this made up story of the invasion of our country from outer space.
And I could not help but be struck by the fact that we saw exactly that same live and in color fear on 9/11 when those people were watching those buildings burn, and all of a sudden the first one came crashing down. And we saw films on television of that absolute panic of American citizens as they ran in abject fear from the falling of those buildings, the attack on our Nation.
We saw films of people leaping from windows.
This is what our national security is all about. As Judge Poe said, it is about protecting the American citizen. While this is the subject of such conversation all over our Nation today, let us do not forget we have got to protect ourselves.
Now, I, like Judge Poe, have been dealing with law enforcement most of my adult life. I have tried a substantial number of felony criminal cases. One of the things that we always would do that we worked into law enforcement is we wanted to have interagency cooperation. We wanted to be able to let the DEA and in Texas the Texas Highway Patrol work together on a drug case, work in cooperation, share information. But as we approached a view of how we were going to secure this Nation, we discovered that we had a lot of agencies in this Federal Government and in the State governments that really were not coordinating, working together. Tools that we have used for years in criminal justice were not being used for securing our Nation. So some brave folks got together here in the Congress, and they wrote the PATRIOT Act.
This PATRIOT Act, because of partisan politics, in my opinion, and the fact that this is a world where everybody likes to criticize everybody else, we forgot about those people panicking in the streets of New York now, and we are starting to tear up a document that makes sense. And I think it makes sense to the American people. I think it makes sense to say I would sure like to know that every agency that is involved with somebody who might want to attack me or my family in this country talks to each other, shares information, does not have bureaucratic boundaries set up which prevent them from doing this.
The FBI should share information with the CIA. The CIA should share information with the DEA. And all other codes for the various groups that are up here, they should get together and share that information. The PATRIOT Act set up those procedures to do that. Does anybody have a problem with that? I cannot imagine an American citizen having a problem with that.
Do you not want your FBI agents and your prosecutors, the people who work on this stuff, to talk? Do you not want them to be able to communicate, share what they have got?
Now, if I think somebody is planning on blowing up a building, just like I am really concerned about somebody who might be worried about smuggling drugs into this country and I want to have a surveillance on that facility where I think this illegal activity or this terrorist activity is taking place, I do not see anything wrong with being able to have procedures set up, which we have used in fighting the war on drugs for years where you go in and take a look and then you back off until the perpetrators get there and then you go in and make your raid.
But you can put a title on that, a sneak and peak warrant, and it sounds horrible. It sounds terrible. It sounds like the government is sneaking around peaking on private citizens. No. Why should you let them know when you are not there that you have been there? Go get them when they are there. We are here to stop these people. Why should we have to conduct investigations and tip off the people we are investigating? Does that make sense? So we have proper legal proceedings that have gone on in this country for a decade or so in fighting the war on drugs and the war on crime. We are using this in the war on terror. That is part of the PATRIOT Act. I do not see why the American public would feel like they were intruded upon at all. Law-abiding American citizens are not intruded upon at all by this.
Some people are just shocked that the PATRIOT Act actually looks into business records. How do you think you finance people to come over here, train to fly a 747 or a 727, and crash into a building without some money? If that money is being done for terrorist activities, why would you not want the investigating agencies to have the ability to go into business records and find out about these things? It certainly makes common sense to me, and it is something we have used. In fact, many of you may recognize now in your life there was a time you could come into this country and deposit money or you could go down to the bank and deposit any amount of money you wanted to in the bank. But there were people coming from other sources with huge sums of money that they were laundering through our banking system for the drug business.
So what did we do? You have to report every $10,000 deposit and every $10,000 withdrawal. Nobody got all upset about that in the United States. That is dealing with people's business records. But it helped us find out where the drug dealers were, and it helped to keep their dirty money out of our legitimate system. Now we want to know where the terrorists' money is, and I think it is appropriate that we look at those records.
Now, does it make sense to you that you have to hunt for somebody to issue a warrant when there is a criminal procedure, a criminal procedure that is going on all over the entire United States, that you have to go to just one particular jurisdiction to get it when it affects all jurisdictions? No, it does not make sense. You should be able to seek a warrant anywhere there is jurisdiction. The PATRIOT Act allows that to happen on terrorist activities.
This is a good law enforcement tool. The warrant still has the same checks and balances and protections and probable causes that are there for anybody. But why do you have to hunt down a judge in Arizona when you can find one in California when it all affects the same territory?
The PATRIOT Act increased penalties on these terrorist crimes. Now, I personally am a penalty guy. I believe in penalties. I have sentenced a person to 20 years in prison for one rock of crack cocaine because I believe punishment works. That is my personal philosophy, and some Americans might not agree with it. Our county happens to have the lowest crime rate in the United States, but that is my argument. But the point is the terrorist penalties have been enhanced by the PATRIOT Act. That is good. That helps us use another tool to keep people who want to harm our wives, our children, our husbands, our communities, give them extra punishment for what they do. Those who harbor those who would harm us we also have tools to go after.
This is the goal of the PATRIOT Act. That is what it was established for. It is a good tool. It is a tool that is effectively helping us. One of the major reasons that all those who deal with these issues talk about them right now, today, is because we have been able to protect this Nation since 9/11. Nobody is sitting here telling you that everything is perfect; but if you throw away your tools and you put up the things that help you solve the problems, in my opinion, for political reasons, it concerns me greatly that the real purpose of homeland security is lost, and that is protecting our families and our way of life.
The USA PATRIOT Act should be renewed. We should continue this tool for the American agencies that deal with terrorism and law breakers and making sure that when our kids go to bed at night, they feel a little bit safer.
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