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Location: Washington, DC

FISA -- (House of Representatives - March 31, 2008)


Mrs. BLACKBURN. I thank the gentleman from Texas for his leadership on this issue, as well as the leadership that has come from the gentlewoman from New Mexico and also the gentleman from Pennsylvania. It is an issue that does need to be addressed. I would remind our constituents who are watching that we are talking about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, FISA. That is what it stands for.

As the gentlewoman from New Mexico said, the changes in technology may mean that someone in the Horn of Africa who is calling in to a Middle Eastern country, their call ends up being routed through this country. What we are talking about is foreign intelligence and talking about getting information, gathering that intelligence that will keep Americans safe. As the gentleman from Pennsylvania said, our constituents are wanting to know, are we in danger? Are we in danger? Where is the next threat? Are you making certain that in our communities, in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our schools, that we are going to be safe?

We were just discussing a bit about the trial bar and their part in this issue, if you will. In mid-March I noticed an editorial in Investors BusinessDaily and it was titled ``FISA Fix For Lawyers.'' Not my words, Investors Business Daily from a mid-March issue, ``FISA Fix For Lawyers.''

Mr. Speaker, that kind of peaked my curiosity, so I read a bit about it. Basically what it goes on to say is that pretty much this bill could be considered an earmark for the trial bar.

Well, I did a little bit of investigating on that issue, once I read that article, Mr. Speaker, and it seems that $72,440,904 had been given to the Democrats by the trial bar this cycle so far. That was through mid-March. So we will see what else happens with that figure.

But it appears, as we have just discussed the lawsuits that are filed with the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, that that may have a little bit to do, Mr. Speaker, with why Investors Business Daily would write an article and look at FISA as a fix for lawyers. Certainly something we do not want to do is have the integrity and the security of every single community in this great land of ours compromised in any way, shape or form because of that.

Now, the gentleman from Texas mentioned that 45 days has passed since the Protect America Act expired, and that does cause some question from our constituents. As the gentleman from Pennsylvania mentioned, Attorneys General from 25 different States support the bipartisan Protect America Act, and independent intelligence reports support this.

Mr. Speaker, I think there is indeed a reason. It is because we all know that protecting this Nation and our Nation's interests should rise above partisan debate on this floor. Of course, the bill that was brought to this floor before we departed for our Easter recess was a bill that the leadership knew was not going to go anywhere, but they felt like they had to do something.

Mrs. Wilson mentioned that intelligence is dynamic. I think that is an important part of the debate that we have before us as we talk about FISA. It is indeed dynamic, because it doesn't stay the same. The individuals who are seeking to do us harm do not stay in the same places, nor are their camps nor are their cells stationary or stagnant. Because of that, we have to look at electronic surveillance as going about this a different way.

The gentleman from Texas mentioned the situation that occurred last year with three American soldiers that were kidnapped in Iraq and the wrangling that had to go on to get through the courts, as he said, to get ``lawyered up,'' to get in there and to get a warrant. By that time, 9 hours had passed, and by that time we had one individual who was dead and we still have two who are missing as of this point in time.

So, looking at 21st century technology, understanding how that technology works on a global basis, and understanding that if we are to stay ahead of the game on this, Mr. Speaker, it is imperative, it is imperative, that we realize that our enemies are using satellite phones. They are not using rotary phones. They are using text messages. They are not sending telegrams.

They are moving constantly; they are not in the same place. And it is imperative that we adjust our laws so that we have the ability to stay ahead of them, and ahead of their desire to do harm to us, our constituents, and our great Nation.


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