KENNEDY STATEMENT ON PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE CONFERENCE REPORT ON THE PATRIOT ACT
For months, we have been ready to roll up our sleeves and get back to work on the PATRIOT Act, but once again the White House has slammed the door on our efforts to act responsibly with regard to far-reaching surveillance methods. Again, and again, the Administration refused to cooperate with Congress on matters of national security, including the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretaps and the use of National Security Letters.
This latest proposal falls short in doing what's needed to improve our intelligence capabilities in a way that respects the checks and balances indispensable to our democracy. One of the most glaring omissions in the proposal is its failure to include a four-year sunset provision on National Security Letters, even though it would be consistent with the new reporting and auditing requirements agreed to by the conferees on this provision. The latest changes also promise some additional protections for libraries, but they fail to require a link between the information sought and a foreign intelligence investigation for searches of library records.
We have not yet achieved the goal of the 9/11 Commission: governmental powers that truly enhance our national security while ensuring adequate oversight over their use. With so much at stake, the Administration's refusal to work with Congress can only weaken our national security and undermine the public's trust in their government.