FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:  Saxby Chambliss
Date: Dec. 28, 2012
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I oppose Senator Wyden's amendment also because it imposes an unreasonably burdensome reporting requirement on the DNI and is inconsistent with the purpose of FISA, which is to obtain foreign intelligence information. This amendment would require the diversion of scarce intelligence personnel and resources away from the identification of foreign intelligence information but, rather, to assess whether any wholly domestic communications have been inadvertently collected under FAA authorities. This is an unnecessary and pointless exercise. The collection system was designed to comply with FISA's clear prohibition against the intentional collection of wholly domestic communications.

I will read how specific this is in the law. This is directly out of section 702, which the amendment seeks to attack. There are limitations against collection of information under the following guise:

An acquisition authorized under subsection (a)--

Which is to collect information from those located outside the United States. We:

may not intentionally target any person known at the time of acquisition to be located in the United States; may not intentionally target a person reasonably believed to be located outside the United States if the purpose of such acquisition is to target a particular, known person reasonably believed to be in the United States; may not intentionally target a United States person reasonably believed to be located outside the United States.

It goes further into detail and is very specific about the fact that there is no authorization to target U.S. persons.

As the chairman said, it is our duty, as members of the Intelligence Committee, to do the oversight required to make sure these laws are complied with, and we do that. We do it in a very deliberate and direct way by not only having the individuals responsible for the collection of this information made available to the committee, but it goes all the way to the top. The individuals who collect it, as well as the leaders of the intelligence community, come in once a year--and they will come more often than that if there is a problem we need to address--and we review this information.

The Senator from Oregon, the distinguished Presiding Officer, members of the Intelligence Committee, know the type of oversight that is available to us. So if there is any question about what is done and whether section 702 is not being complied with, we have the opportunity to ask the questions.

The amendment by the distinguished Senator from Oregon actually goes further than what he said was a simple yes-or-no question and requires that the intelligence community go into great detail on any estimate or any finding where a U.S. person may have been involved. Is that the type of information we need for our intelligence community to spend their time on versus trying to find bad guys around the world? I think the answer is pretty simple.

As we said yesterday, if there is a problem and the problem is addressed by the intelligence community and the Intelligence Committees on both the House and Senate side, it is not abused. If there is a problem, we fix it. There are minimization procedures that are in place which address this issue that are used when necessary. If we do our job, there is absolutely no reason for this amendment--and we do our job.

The chairman is very diligent in making sure the annual reviews are set at specific times of the year. Every member of the committee has an obligation to be at the hearings to ask the tough and right questions. As far as I know, every member of the committee has done that. We have provided the right kind of oversight.

I encourage my colleagues to vote against this because it is simply an unnecessary amendment, and it is the last amendment we have to consider. As we said over and over yesterday, we have to get this bill on the desk of the President by December 31, which is 3 days away.

It is important we conclude this morning, that the bill be sent to the President's desk so we can sign it, and we can continue to provide the right kind of supervised collection against foreign individuals to make sure America and Americans are protected.

I yield the floor.


Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I would echo what the chairman said--that the very well trained, dedicated staff of the Intelligence Committee is available to assist any Member in reviewing the classified information that is the subject of section 702. That is why they are there. The Senator from Oregon is right. Every Member of Congress doesn't have that highly trained, top-secret staff member, and there are reasons for that. There are reasons why the Intelligence Committee members do have those types of staffers. Those staffers are available at any time for discussion of this issue or, for that matter, any other issue relative to national security that is within the purview of the Intelligence Committee.

So I again say that this amendment is simply totally unnecessary because there are specific and direct prohibitions in the law as well as in court decisions that do not allow our respective intelligence community agencies to listen in or review e-mails or whatever on U.S. citizens unless it is under some sort of court order where probable cause must be shown.

We need to make sure we are equipping our intelligence community agents with every single tool necessary to combat terrorists around the world. This section is critical to doing that. I urge a vote against the amendment.


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