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Ryan Praises Long Overdue FISA Reforms

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Ryan Praises Long Overdue FISA Reforms

Wisconsin's 1st District Congressman Paul Ryan applauded the long overdue compromise that promotes both the security and the civil liberties of the American people. Today, Ryan voted in favor of a long-term fix to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (H.R. 6304) passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, with a vote of 293 to 129.

The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 provides the legal framework for the intelligence community to acquire foreign intelligence information, with an appreciation for the significant changes in communications technology and the nature of national security threats since FISA was passed in 1978. Consistent with the 1978 law and the Constitution, FISA Court approval would still be required for monitoring communications of suspected foreign terrorists. Rather than waiting for court approval before taking action - a delay that would put American lives at risk in the post-9/11 world - intelligence officials can seek court approval within a week of emergency eavesdropping on foreigners. To be clear, this bill strengthens current protections for U.S. citizens against unlawful monitoring by U.S. intelligence agencies.

This bill also addresses the liability issue for telecommunication companies that assisted the federal government in good faith following the horrific attacks on September 11th, 2001. H.R. 6304 provides procedures by which Federal courts can grant retroactive liability protection for these companies. Following today's vote on the House floor, Congressman Ryan issued the following statement:

"While we should have closed the gaps in our intelligence laws a long time ago, today's bipartisan compromise will serve as a significant blow to radical terrorist networks seeking to do us harm. This bill protects telecom companies that stepped forward in the days following 9/11 to assist the government in keeping us safe. Those acts deserve admiration - not lawsuits.

"Congress has repeatedly failed in its attempts to modernize the tools to combat terrorism. Since the expiration of the Protect America Act over four months ago, America has been fighting terrorism with pre-9/11 intelligence capabilities. Today, Congress has taken a significant step forward in giving our intelligence community the tools they need to keep America safe, while upholding the treasured freedoms and civil liberties that we hold dear."

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