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FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GOWDY. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for your leadership on this and a host of other issues on the Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Speaker, this week has provided tragic reminders that the world is a dangerous place. We are targets even from people we have helped in the past--with lethal consequences because we represent freedom, liberty and tolerance even among those with whom we disagree.

Each of us is asked when we go back home to our districts, Can Congress agree on anything? Is there anything that rises above politics anymore? Many of us would like to answer yes. We'd like to tell the people we work for that, yes, on issues of national security and protecting this country, yes, we can come together. We are capable of putting down talking points and red herrings and straw arguments and of picking up something called responsibility.

To say that this reauthorization has bipartisan support is an understatement. This bill passed unanimously in the House Intelligence Committee. For those in shock back home, Mr. Speaker, I'm going to repeat that: this bill passed unanimously. All Democrats, all Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee with access to the most information, not a single ``no'' vote.

President Bush supported this. Mr. Obama supports this. National security experts support this. Law enforcement officials support it. Our colleagues who served in the FBI and those who are Federal prosecutors and in the military support it. The Democrat-led House passed this bill in 2008 with former Speaker Pelosi giving a glowing speech extolling the virtues of the underlying bill and excoriating her colleagues about the necessity of passing.

All of this happened, Mr. Speaker, because intelligence is the lifeblood of our ability to defend ourselves. It happened because this bill has nothing to do with Americans on American soil. It passed because this provides protections for Americans who are traveling abroad. It passed because there is ample oversight. It passed because it has the needed checks and balances between the legislative branch and the executive branch and the judicial branch.

So why the opposition? How can you explain supporting something when Ms. Pelosi had the gavel, but you can't support it when Mr. Boehner has the gavel?

What I want to do, Mr. Speaker, just for today is: let's put down the red herrings, and let's put down the straw arguments and the misrepresentations. This bill doesn't implicate the Bill of Rights anymore than it implicates any other part of our Constitution--unless you think that foreign nationals who are on foreign land fall within the protections of the United States Constitution, and that is an absurd argument.

Foreign nationals in foreign lands, do they have the right to vote? Do they assert states' rights under the 10th Amendment? Can they claim cruel and unusual punishment? Go to Iran. If you're an Iranian, you go to Iran and assert your Fifth Amendment right to Miranda or your Sixth Amendment right to counsel and see what happens. Yet we're to believe that the Fourth Amendment applies to the entire world? It's absurd.

Mr. Speaker, I'm almost out of time, but I do want to say from the bottom of my heart--what's left of it after having been a prosecutor for 16 years--I want to say this.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield an additional 1 minute to the gentleman.

Mr. GOWDY. I believe you were with us, Mr. Speaker. I believe all of our colleagues were with us on the steps of the Capitol. We came together to remember 9/11 and what we lost and what we still grieve for as a Nation, Mr. Speaker, what we found as a Nation in the aftermath of 9/11. Republicans stood with Democrats on this, the steps of the people's House, and conservatives stood with progressives and moderates, and libertarians beside us. We were just Americans. That was enough on Tuesday. We were united. We were just Americans.

Even for just one fleeting moment, in our desire to honor, protect, and defend, if we can come together, Mr. Speaker, to remember 9/11, surely we can come together to prevent another one.

I ask my colleagues to support this bill.


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