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Public Statements

FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, I rise in support of the Wyden amendment. Before I share my thoughts, I wanted to express my respect and admiration for the chairwoman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. They are professional, easy to work with, and have the security of our people front and center at all times.

As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I have learned a great deal with respect to our post-9/11 surveillance laws and how they have been implemented. In the course of my 2 years on the committee, I have determined there are reforms which need to be made to the FISA Amendments Act before we renew this important law.

Earlier this year, Senator Wyden and I opposed the bill reported out of the Senate Intelligence Committee extending the expiration date of the FISA Amendments Act because we believe Congress does not have an adequate understanding of the effect this law has had on the privacy of law-abiding American citizens. In our view it is important for Members of Congress and the public to have a better understanding of the foreign intelligence surveillance conducted under the FAA so Congress can consider whether the law should be modified rather than simply extended without changes.

That is the simple purpose of the amendment Senator Wyden, other colleagues, and I have filed--to make more information available to Members of Congress and the public so they have a better understanding of the law and its imitation.

This amendment requires the Director of National Intelligence to provide information to Congress about the effects of the FISA Amendments Act on the privacy of America, which is something we all hold dear. It would require information on whether an estimation has been conducted of how many U.S. communications have been collected under the FISA Amendments Act and, if so, how many, whether any wholly domestic communications have been collected and whether officials have gone through these communications to conduct warrantless searches for the phone calls and e-mails of specific Americans.

It would not require the intelligence community to conduct any new estimates of Americans whose communications may have been collected under the statute and would give the President full discretion to redact information from the public version of the report.

I will conclude by restating my belief that the American people need a better understanding of how the FISA Amendments Act, section 702, in particular, has affected the privacy of Americans. I also believe we need new protections against potential warrantless searches for Americans' communications. I believe that without such reforms, Congress should not simply extend the law for 5 years.

I yield the floor.


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