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Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 281, I call up the bill (S. 990) to provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, and for other purposes, with the Senate amendment to the House amendment thereto, and I have a motion at the desk.
The Clerk read the title of the bill.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Clerk will designate the Senate amendment to the House amendment.
The text of the Senate amendment to the House amendment is as follows:
In lieu of the matter proposed to be inserted, insert the following:
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011''.
SEC. 2. SUNSET EXTENSIONS.
(a) USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005.--Section 102(b)(1) of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-177; 50 U.S.C. 1805 note, 50 U.S.C. 1861 note, and 50 U.S.C. 1862 note) is amended by striking ``May 27, 2011'' and inserting ``June 1, 2015''.
(b) Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.--Section 6001(b)(1) of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-458; 50 U.S.C. 1801 note) is amended by striking ``May 27, 2011'' and inserting ``June 1, 2015''.
MOTION TO CONCUR
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Clerk will report the motion.
The Clerk read as follows:
Mr. Smith of Texas moves that the House concur in the Senate amendment to the House amendment to S. 990.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 281, the motion shall be debatable for 1 hour, with 40 minutes equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on the Judiciary and 20 minutes equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
The gentleman from Texas (Mr. Smith) and the gentleman from New York (Mr. Nadler) each will control 20 minutes. The gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Rogers) and the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Ruppersberger) each will control 10 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas.
Mr. SMITH of Texas. I ask unanimous consent that all Members have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on S. 990.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Texas?
There was no objection.
Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, 4 months from now, America will mark the 10-year anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. Tonight at midnight, three national security provisions that have helped prevent another 9/11 attack will expire. Congress must do its job and approve this legislation to reauthorize them before time runs out.
Some argue that since we haven't had a major terrorist attack since September 11, we no longer need these laws. Others argue that the death of Osama bin Laden brought an end to al Qaeda and the war on terror, but both of these claims lack merit.
The Patriot Act provisions continue to play a vital role in America's counterterrorism efforts not only to prevent another large-scale attack but also to combat an increasing number of smaller terrorist plots.
Earlier this year, a 20-year-old student from Saudi Arabia was arrested in my home State of Texas for attempting to use weapons of mass destruction. Khalid Aldawsari attempted to purchase chemicals to construct a bomb against targets including the Dallas residence of former President George W. Bush, several dams in Colorado and California, and the homes of three former military guards who served in Iraq. Information obtained through a section 215 business records order was essential in thwarting this plot.
Make no mistake, the threat from terrorists and spies is real. These provisions are vital to our intelligence investigations, and they are effective.
We also have heard repeatedly from the Obama administration about the critical importance of extending these laws. S. 990, the Patriot Sunsets Extension Act of 2011, is a bipartisan, bicameral compromise to reauthorize the existing Patriot Act provisions for another 4 years. By doing so, Congress is ensuring that critical intelligence will be collected and terrorist plots will be disrupted.
In February, Congress approved a 90-day extension of these provisions. During the last 3 months, the House Judiciary Committee has thoroughly reviewed the Patriot Act and how its provisions are used in national security investigations. The Crime Subcommittee has held three hearings specifically on the Patriot Act, the full committee held oversight hearings of the FBI and the Department of Justice, and all committee members were provided a classified briefing by the administration. Attorney General Eric Holder told the committee that he supports these provisions and encouraged Congress to reauthorize them for as long of a period of time as possible.
The roving wiretap provision allows intelligence officials, after receiving approval from a Federal court, to conduct surveillance on terrorist suspects, regardless of how many communication devices they may use. We know terrorists use many forms of communication to conceal their plots, including disposable cell phones and free email accounts. Roving wiretaps are nothing new. Domestic law enforcement agencies have had roving wiretaps for criminal investigations since 1986. If we can use roving wiretaps to track down a drug trafficker, why shouldn't we also use it to prevent a terrorist attack?
The business records provision allows the FBI to access third-party business records in foreign intelligence, international terrorism, and espionage cases. Again, this provision requires the approval of a Federal judge. That means the FBI must prove to a Federal judge that the documents are needed as part of a legitimate national security investigation. These two provisions have been effectively used for the last 10 years without any evidence of misuse or abuse.
Our national security laws allow intelligence gathering on foreign governments, terrorist groups, and their agents. But what about a foreign terrorist who either acts alone or cannot be immediately tied to a terrorist organization? The lone wolf definition simply brings our national security laws into the 21st century to allow our intelligence officials to answer the modern-day terrorist threat.
Since 9/11, we have seen terrorist tactics change. In addition to coordinated attacks by al Qaeda and other groups, we face the threat of self-radicalized terrorists who are motivated by al Qaeda but may not be directly affiliated with such groups. The lone wolf definition ensures that our laws cover rogue terrorists even if they aren't a card-carrying member of al Qaeda or another terrorist organization.
The terrorist threat will not sunset at midnight and neither should our national security laws. The Patriot Act is an integral part of our offensive against terrorists and has proved effective at keeping Americans safe from terrorist attacks.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this reauthorization.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to this extension of the three expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act and the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act. When we last considered these expiring provisions, it was to extend them temporarily so that the House could review them and consider whether to improve them or allow them to expire. Many Members on both sides of the aisle objected to extending these provisions without so much as a hearing or an opportunity to debate changes to the law. In fact, the extension was rejected the first time with the votes of both Democrats and Republicans.
Since that debate, Chairman Sensenbrenner did in fact hold a series of hearings in which members of the Judiciary Committee were able to consider the issues and hear from many thoughtful experts who were able to make helpful suggestions. These three provisions dealing with roving wiretap authority, expansion of the definition of an agent of a foreign power to include so-called lone wolfs, and section 215, which allows the government to obtain business and library records using an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court instead of the normal methods have aroused a great deal of controversy and concern, and rightly so.
Section 215 authorizes the government to obtain ``any tangible thing'' relevant to a terrorism investigation, even if there is no showing that the thing pertains to suspected terrorists or terrorist activities. Section 215 is sweeping in its scope, and the government is not required to show reasonable suspicion or probable cause before undertaking an investigation that infringes upon a person's privacy. Congress should either ensure that things collected with this power have a meaningful nexus to suspected terrorist activity or should allow this provision to expire.
Section 206 provides for roving wiretaps, which permit the government to obtain intelligence surveillance orders that identify neither the person to be tapped nor the facility to be tapped. There is virtually no particularity required. This seems a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. There are almost no limits on this authority and no requirement that the government name a specific target, either a person or a location.
Section 6001 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, the so-called lone wolf provision, permits secret intelligence surveillance of non-U.S. persons who are not affiliated with a foreign government or organization. According to government testimony, this provision has never been used; yet we are told it is vital that it remain on the books.
Surveillance of an individual who concededly is not working with a foreign government or with a terrorist organization is not normally what we understand as foreign intelligence. There may be many good reasons for government to keep tabs on such an individual, but there is no reason to suspend all our normal laws under the pretext that this is a foreign intelligence operation.
We are now told we must simply punt for a few years. No need, we have been told, to consider any of the many improvements that many Members believe are important. No need, in fact, even to have a debate or a vote on those changes. It's another ``my way or the highway'' vote. That is no way to protect our Nation from terrorism while protecting our fundamental liberties from government intrusion.
I realize that the Republican majority has the votes to extend these expiring authorities, but I am proud to stand with my colleagues of both parties in opposition to the flippant and reckless way in which our liberties are being treated today.
I urge my colleagues to reject this dangerous legislation and demand that the House have a serious debate on the important issues impacted by this legislation affecting our security and our liberty.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee).
Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. I thank the gentleman very much.
I rise today to support a 7-day extension, which means I believe that we can fix these problems. And I am disappointed that we again, having been given the responsibility of oversight, now rush for a two-page document, a two-page document that is now the essence of the Patriot Act, which in fact will provide some challenge to the civil liberties of all Americans. I highlight just one or two.
The business records applies to citizens and noncitizens alike, where law enforcement or government authorities can come and take items, no matter what their relevance, if they think that they might have some relevance to terrorism. Any tangible thing. Restaurants, where you are going to a restaurant. They can ask for what you ate. A hotel, your records. Libraries, your records.
Why couldn't we do this with a 7-day review time? Extend it for 7 days today and allow us from New Hampshire to Texas to California to be able to say that we stand with our soldiers in securing the Nation, but we also believe in civil liberties.
Let me remind my colleagues, 9/11 and the terrorists that we were shocked that could find their way to lift off and not take off, that was a question of not connecting the dots. Not that we didn't have the information; we didn't connect the dots of information that were sitting on the desks of an agent in the Midwest and information that was somewhere else. Intelligence, getting information, analyzing it is part of securing the homeland, not violating the rights of Americans.
So here we go again. Business records with no restraint, not adding the civil liberties and oversight provisions that were found in JOHN CONYERS' legislation, the ranking member on Judiciary, and as well the chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the Senate, Senator Leahy.
What is the rush to protect those who are in fact citizens of the United States--what is the rush not to protect them? Support a 7-day extension. Don't vote for legislation that violates the civil liberties of Americans.
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As a member of the Homeland Security Committee, I understand the importance of national security, and the challenges we face as we strive to protect our nation from foreign threats. I appreciate the need to ensure that the law enforcement and intelligence communities are equipped with the tools necessary to carry out investigations. And with certain improvements to protect individuals' privacy rights and civil liberties, I believe the PATRIOT Act can continue to achieve that goal.
However, as members of Congress, we have the role of oversight, and I am deeply concerned when our Constitutional rights run the risk of being infringed upon, even if it is in the name of national security.
This bill would extend three provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, commonly known as the business records, lone wolf, and John Doe roving wiretap provisions, for four years to June 1, 2015, with no changes, alterations, or considerations of the constant concerns about privacy rights and civil liberties.
This bill is reflective of a deal between Senate Leadership and Republican House Leadership, however, it does not contain any of the considerations and meaningful improvements which were included Senator Leahy's version of the PATRIOT Act Sunset extension bill that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support and the backing of the intelligence community. It makes no improvements to the PATRIOT Act. It includes no new protections for privacy. It requires no reporting to Congress.
Nor does this bill take into account any of the meaningful improvements or additions which were included in H.R. 1805, Representative Conyers' House counterpart to Senator Leahy's Senate Bill.
The proposals introduced by Senator Leahy and Representative Conyers make meaningful improvements to the PATRIOT Act and related authorities, and have the support of the Obama Administration and the intelligence community.
They reauthorize the Business Records, Lone Wolf, and Roving Wiretaps provisions for two and a half years--until December 2013--allowing for greater Congressional oversight, which was the original intent of Congress when it originally included sunsets in these provisions. For the first time, a sunset was included on the use of National Security Letters. Finally, it moves the sunset on the FISA Amendments Act from the end of 2012 to 2013 so that all these inter-related surveillance authorities can be considered together in a non-election year to avoid reconsideration in the midst of a politicized environment.
This proposal modifies the standard for obtaining a FISA court order to obtain business records by eliminating the overbroad presumption of relevance in these cases, and requires the Government to provide a written statement of the facts and circumstances that justify the applicant's belief that the tangible things sought are relevant. Furthermore, these bills contain additional protections for bookseller or library records.
Additionally, these proposals would have made a number of changes to NSL practices and procedures, in response to the numerous abuses of this tool, including clarifying the standards for including a gag order, significantly improving the process for challenging gag orders, and adding a factual basis requirement.
Furthermore, the Leahy and Conyers bill would have eased the concerns of many Americans by enhancing public reporting and requiring audits.
The bill before us now, which was rushed through at the final hour despite multiple extensions, includes none of the thoughtful enhancements and improvements which have been carefully considered and crafted over the past several months. It ignores the results of countless oversight hearings, legislative hearings, and committee markups. It completely ignores the concerns that many Americans have voiced and continue to raise.
These three provisions of the PATRIOT Act extend overstep the bounds of the government investigative power set forth in the Constitution.
The ``roving wiretap'' provision allows a roving electronic surveillance authority, allowing the government to obtain intelligence surveillance orders with not particularity, that identify neither the person nor the facility to be tapped.
The ``business records'' provision authorizes the government to obtain ``any tangible thing'' relevant to a terrorism investigation, even if there is no showing that the ``thing'' pertains to suspected terrorists or terrorist activities. This provision, which was addressed in the Judiciary Committee during the 111th Congress, runs afoul of the traditional notions of search and seizure, which require the government to show ``reasonable suspicion'' or ``probable cause'' before undertaking an investigation that infringes upon a person's privacy. Congress must ensure that things collected with this power have a meaningful nexus to suspected terrorist activity.
The ``lone wolf'' provision permits secret intelligence surveillance of non-US persons who are not affiliated with a foreign organization. This type of authorization, which is only granted in secret courts, is subject to abuse, and threatens our longtime understandings of the limits of the government's investigatory powers within the borders of the United States.
This bill fails to address National Security Letters (NSLs) all together. NSLs permit the government to obtain the communication, financial and credit records of anyone deemed relevant to a terrorism investigation, even if that person is not suspected of unlawful behavior. I repeat, even if that person is NOT suspected of unlawful behavior.
Issues surrounding these particular provisions are not a stranger to us, for we have been dealing with them since 2001 when the PATRIOT Act was introduced. It has been examined in the Judiciary Committee numerous times. I, along with other Members of the Judiciary Committee like Mr. CONYERS and Mr. NADLER, offered multiple amendments that not only addressed the three provisions, but also National Security Letters and the lax standards of intent.
We must ensure that our intelligence professionals have the tools that they need to protect our Nation, while also safeguarding the rights of law-abiding Americans.
To win the war on terror, the United States must remain true to the founding architects of this democracy who created a Constitution which enshrined an inalienable set of rights. These Bills Of Rights guarantee certain fundamental freedoms that cannot be limited by the government. One of these freedoms, the Fourth Amendment, is the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. We do not circumvent the Fourth Amendment, or any other provision in the United States Constitution, merely because it is inconvenient.
There is nothing more important than providing the United States of America, especially our military and national security personnel, the right tools to protect our citizens and prevail in the global war on terror. Holding true to our fundamental constitutional principles is the only way to prove to the world that it is indeed possible to secure America while preserving our way of life.
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Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner), the current chairman of the Crime Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee and a former chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of S. 990, to reauthorize the three expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act for 4 years. This legislation provides much-needed certainty to our intelligence officials, who rely on these tools to prevent terrorist attacks, monitor foreign spies, and prevent espionage.
Unfortunately, this bill does not go as far as legislation reported by the Judiciary Committee earlier this month. H.R. 1800, the bill I sponsored along with Judiciary Chairman Smith, Intelligence Chairman Rogers, and House Administration Chairman Lungren, permanently reauthorizes the lone wolf definition and extends section 206 roving authority and section 215 business records authority for 6 years.
The PATRIOT Act has been plagued by myths and misinformation for 10 years. We've heard some of those tonight, and we'll probably hear more. In the last 3 months, myths have become even more outlandish--claims of warrantless wiretapping, monitoring entire neighborhoods, and blatant constitutional violations. Make no mistake: Each and every one of these claims are patently false, and if Congress fails to reauthorize these laws before they expire, America's national security and that of its citizens will be the most vulnerable in a decade.
The lone wolf definition closes a gap in FISA by allowing the government to track a foreign national, not a U.S. person, who engages in acts to prepare for a terrorist act against the United States but is not affiliated, or cannot immediately be shown to be affiliated, with a foreign terrorist organization. The lone wolf definition is in fact quite narrow. It cannot be used to investigate U.S. persons and only applies in cases of suspected international terrorism. The government cannot use this provision to investigate domestic terrorism.
Although the lone wolf provision has yet to be used, it is an important provision that recognizes the growing threat of individuals who may subscribe to radical and violent beliefs, but do not clearly belong to a specific terrorist group. The recent death of Osama bin Laden only strengthens its importance, as the fear of individual retaliatory acts increases.
Section 206 of the PATRIOT Act authorizes the use of ``roving'' or multipoint wiretaps for national security and intelligence investigations. This allows the government to use a single wiretap order to cover any communications device that the target is using or is about to use. Without roving wiretap authority, investigators must seek a new court order each time a terrorist or spy changes cell phones or computers. In today's world of disposable cell phones, free e-mail accounts, and prominent social media, roving authority is a crucial tool.
Section 215 allows the FISA Court to issue orders granting the government access to business records in foreign intelligence, international terrorism, and clandestine intelligence cases. This authority is similar to the widely accepted grand jury subpoena in criminal investigations.
There are numerous protections written into the law to ensure that the authority is not misused. Under section 215, only an article III FISA judge can issue an order for business records; an investigation of a U.S. person cannot be based solely on activities protected by the First Amendment; the records must be for a foreign intelligence or international terrorism investigation; and minimization procedures must be utilized.
In addition, requests for records of library circulation, book sales, firearms sales, and the like must first be approved by the FBI director, his deputy, or head of the FBI's national security division. By contrast, a grand jury subpoena can obtain all of these records in a criminal investigation with simply the signature of a line prosecutor. Finally, business records, which by definition reside in the hands of a third party, do not--and I repeat, do not--implicate the Fourth Amendment.
Since this law was first enacted over 10 years ago, these provisions have been scrutinized to the fullest extent of the law and have been either unchallenged or found constitutional. The lone wolf definition has never been challenged. Section 206 roving wiretaps have never been challenged. But four appellate courts, including the Ninth Circuit, have upheld criminal roving wiretap authority under the Fourth Amendment.
Section 215 business records were challenged, but after Congress made changes to that provision in the 2006 reauthorization, which many people who are complaining about this bill voted against, the lawsuit was withdrawn.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.
Mr. SMITH of Texas. I yield the gentleman an additional minute.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. These three provisions have stopped countless potential attacks and play a critical role in helping ensure law enforcement officials have the tools they need to keep our country safe.
The death of Osama bin Laden proves that American intelligence gathering is vital to our national security. The fight against terrorism, however, did not die with bin Laden, and neither did the need for the PATRIOT Act.
I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.
Mr. NADLER. I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Kucinich).
Mr. KUCINICH. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to another abdication of our constitutional duty to conduct oversight and protect our most basic civil liberties. This bill extends through June 1, 2015, three provisions contained in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act and the USA PATRIOT Act that, at the time of their passage, constituted an unprecedented expansion of government power and infringement on the American people's privacy.
Earlier this month, the Department of Justice released its annual report on surveillance activities for 2010. The report reveals that the government quadrupled its use of section 215 orders, named after one of the provisions, poised to extend until 2015 with no reform. Section 215, also known as the business records provision, allows the FBI to order any person, any business, to turn over any tangible things as long as it specifies it's for an authorized investigation. Orders executed under section 215 constitute a serious violation of Fourth Amendment and First Amendment rights by allowing the government to demand access to records often associated with the exercise of First Amendment rights, such as library records or medical records.
The other amendments to be extended include section 601, the lone wolf surveillance provision, contained in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which authorizes the government to conduct investigations of non-U.S. individuals not connected to any foreign power or terrorist group. It effectively allows the government to circumvent the standards that are required to obtain electronic surveillance orders from criminal courts.
Lastly, section 206, known as the John Doe wiretap, allows the FBI to obtain an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to wiretap a target without having to specify the target or the device. These provisions were given a sunset for a reason.
There's an abundance of evidence over the last 10 years that these powers have given the government license to infringe on constitutionally protected privacy of the American people with no accountability. It's time we stop rubber-stamping these provisions, reform the PATRIOT Act, and stop Big Government from reaching into people's private lives.
Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, may I ask how much time remains on each side?
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Texas has 9 minutes remaining, and the gentleman from New York has 12 1/2 minutes remaining.
Mr. SMITH of Texas. I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. NADLER. I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Holt).
Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, the House is once again in an unexamined rush to make semi-permanent the government's ability to seek all matter of records on citizens without having to demonstrate to a court that citizens under suspicion are actually engaged in terrorist activities.
The power of government for surveillance and enforcement are among the most important but also the most fearsome. We know these authorities and others have been abused, because the Department of Justice Inspector General has told us so. I know it, because for 8 years I served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Let me tell you, American freedom and security are not well-served by the excessive secrecy imposed on our society and government by this legislation.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which is responsible for approving government surveillance requests under the PATRIOT Act, is the kind of court that should be used only rarely and in the most special circumstances. Instead, it has become part of a kind of routine clandestine government.
Treating some Americans as above suspicion and others as suspect without cause has made us a less just and also a less secure society.
The PATRIOT Act was originally passed at a time of high emotion in this country. Nearly a decade at the PATRIOT Act enactment, the death of Osama bin Laden has provided us with an opportunity to stop and reflect on all that has transpired over the last 10 years. It is past time for us to pause and reexamine the validity of the assumptions that led to the passage of the PATRIOT Act and the validity of its current application.
But, you say, we cannot debate the validity of its current application because those applications are classified at a very high level. That is precisely one of the points we should be debating thoroughly before any reauthorization.
Sitting on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence for 8 years, let me tell you, that secrecy does not serve America well.
Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. Daniel E. Lungren), chairman of the House Administration Committee and also a senior member of the Judiciary Committee.
Mr. DANIEL E. LUNGREN of California. Mr. Speaker, I know we want to get to a vote very, very soon and normally I would refrain from speaking on this except that because this is such an important issue and some of the things that have been stated on the floor are so patently untrue, there is an obligation for those of us who have been working on this issue for some period of time to make sure that the public is not misled by statements that have been made here on the floor.
Number one, the Fourth Amendment is not implicated.
We have heard statements on this floor that are absolutely not true. They are the same statements that were made the last time we had this on the floor, the same statements that were made when we reauthorized this a few years ago. And one of the most amazing things is there is a continuation of this argument that we haven't done proper oversight. I don't know where you have been, but many of us on this side of the aisle have been in briefings and on hearings on these very issues seeking out the truth on these things.
The canard that somehow we are tearing the Constitution up just does not stand any kind of inquiry whatsoever. The suggestion that somehow we are invading the civil liberties of citizens is negated by the language in the three sections of the bill that we have before us. And the argument that somehow, since we got rid of Osama bin Laden, we don't need this, is the most absurd at all.
One of the lessons of our successful mission being executed against Osama bin Laden is that you need actionable intelligence over a long range of time that you can connect together with analysis to give you the information that you need. It doesn't fall from heaven. It doesn't come like manna. You have to go get it. We have carefully constructed these provisions to allow us to do the kind of work that is necessary not to collect the bodies after a successful terrorist attack has occurred but, rather, to prevent these terrorist attacks.
One of the things people should keep in mind is that we have the intervention of Federal judges in these three different areas of the law. It is not something where the executive branch is allowed to go unfettered into looking for this information. Rather, they must justify it to an independent Federal court; and some say, oh my gosh, it is a secret court. It is a secret court because, in fact, there are certain secrets that must be maintained as we attempt as best we can to save this Nation and our citizens from those who would attack us.
One wonders at times whether we have the sense of urgency that is necessary to continue with the efforts to make us safe. The fact that we have thwarted successfully terrorist attacks is not a reason to dismantle the means which allowed us to do that. It is, in fact, a reason why we should continue this.
Any honest examination of the history of this Judiciary Committee and the Crime Subcommittee will reveal that we have done the oversight necessary to ensure that we have the tools to fight the threat of terrorism and at the same time preserve the civil liberties of American citizens.
To suggest otherwise is to ignore the record. To suggest it's unconstitutional is to somehow ignore the decisions made by every Federal court that has looked at this.
But you can continue to make these statements, you can continue to confuse the public, you can continue to raise alarm where alarm ought not to be raised.
With all due respect, while everybody is entitled to their opinions, they are not entitled to their own facts. They must take the facts as they are. And the facts are this is constitutional, it is workable, it is necessary. We have to do it, and we have to do it now.
Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Ruppersberger).
Mr. RUPPERSBERGER. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of S. 990. These three provisions of the PATRIOT Act provide important tools that help keep America safe.
I am pleased that this bill includes sunsets. Our Founding Fathers created a system of government that included checks and balances among the three branches of government: the legislative, executive and judicial. Sunsets allow for the legislative branch to conduct meaningful oversight on an ongoing basis.
I will support this extension because I believe that these provisions are consistent with the Constitution and provide the tools the government needs to keep us safe while protecting civil liberties.
Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, let me just say that we have heard all these arguments before many times on this floor. It's hard for me to believe that a proper investigation and proper procedures would not have been able to improve these provisions in any way, that all the hearings, all the suggestions that were made came to no changes at all.
I am not going to debate for the fifth time with Mr. Lungren his statements. I do not believe they are accurate. He does not believe what I said is accurate. We are on similar ground there.
Let me just say that I believe that these provisions should be amended, they should be changed. They are an overbroad violation of our rights and leave it at that and, therefore, I will oppose it.
Before we conclude, I want to recognize Judiciary Committee counsel Sam Sokol, who is leaving the committee tomorrow for what I know is a bright future. I know that I speak for every member of the committee in thanking Sam for his wise counsel, his prodigious capacity for work, and his friendship. He has been a valued member of our team, and we will miss him greatly. We wish you the best of luck, Sam.
With that, I urge the defeat of this bill.
I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Marino), a member of the Judiciary Committee Crime Subcommittee. He is also both a former U.S. Attorney and district attorney.
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