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Blog: Washington Update: July 3. 2013


Location: Unknown

Dear Friend,

Welcome to my Washington Update, an e-newsletter for the constituents of California's 28th Congressional District. This e-newsletter provides a way for you to keep me informed of your views and interests. You can do this by clicking on the survey question, which appears on the right. In addition to participating in the survey, I would encourage you to send any more detailed thoughts by email.

Rep. Schiff Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Declassify Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Opinions

In the wake of stories regarding NSA surveillance programs, Rep. Adam Schiff introduced bipartisan legislation with Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) which would require the Attorney General to declassify significant Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) opinions, allowing Americans to know how the Court has interpreted its legal authorities. The FISC Court is tasked with reviewing and authorizing requests for surveillance authorities for national security purposes, both inside and outside the United States. Because of the sensitive nature of these requests, the FISC is a "secret court" and FISC rulings, orders, and other deliberations are highly classified. As with any court, the FISC's rulings may include substantive interpretations of the law and Congressional intent, and such interpretations determine the extent of the government's surveillance authority. Much of the Court's orders and rulings are necessarily classified, as they relate to the sources and methods of collection used by intelligence agencies. However, the substantive legal interpretations and constructions made by the FISC can, in many cases, be made public in a format consistent with national security.

"In order to have an informed public debate on the merits of these programs, it is important for the American people to know how such programs have been authorized, their limits and their scope," said Rep. Schiff. "Particularly now that the existence of these programs has been acknowledged, I believe there is much more that can be shared with the public about their legal basis. It is my hope that this legislation will increase transparency and inform the national debate about the surveillance authorities provided to the Intelligence Community. I also believe that requiring additional disclosure would provide another valuable check on any potential expansion of surveillance under these authorities, whether by this or any future Administration."


Rep. Schiff Heralds Return of Marriage Equality to California

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional on equal protection grounds and dismissed a case involving California's Proposition 8, making marriage equality legal in California again. Schiff applauded both of the decisions -- he's been a strong supporter of marriage equality and the Respect for Marriage Act, which would require recognition of any marriage performed in any state under federal law, including that of LGBT Americans. Just a day before the momentous decisions, Rep. Schiff met with Paul Katami and Jeff Zarillo -- two of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case about California's Prop 8 from Burbank, CA.

"By ruling that DOMA is an unconstitutional violation of equal protection, the Court has struck a momentous blow against discrimination and injustice, bringing us closer to our founding principle that all people are created equal," said Schiff. "By dismissing the Prop 8 case, the Court has returned marriage equality to California. It's my hope that clerks will begin issuing marriage licenses to those loving couples wishing to get married as soon as possible. Love is love, and the fight will not be over until equality under the law -- including the right to marry the person you love -- is the law of the land in every state in the nation."


Rep. Schiff Applauds Metrolink's Decision to Undertake a Health Risk Assessment of the Taylor Yards Facility

Just one month after Rep. Schiff, Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell and local residents held a rally urging Metrolink to undertake a health risk assessment of its Taylor Yards facility in Elysian Valley, Metrolink has agreed to do so. For years residents have expressed concern about the impact of Metrolink trains on their health, given that the trains idle for long periods of time in the yard emitting Diesel Particulate Matter (DPM). According to the EPA, DPM, even in small exposures, can cause eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, as well as cause nausea and exacerbate asthma. Long-term exposure to DPM can result in lung inflammation and based upon human and laboratory studies there is considerable evidence that diesel exhaust is a likely carcinogen.

"I'm pleased that Metrolink answered the community's calls to perform a health risk assessment of Taylor Yards," said Schiff. "The community and I look forward to working with Metrolink to find the right firm to undertake the assessment so both the agency and residents have confidence in the study and its results."


Rep Schiff Warns Against American Intervention in Syrian Conflict

Late last month, it was reported that the Obama Administration would provide limited arms assistance and tactical support to the Syrian rebels who are opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Rep. Schiff, who is a senior Member of the Intelligence Committee, has long-argued against such a move -- instead he feels the U.S. should focus on bringing an end to the conflict, addressing the use of chemical weapons, assisting refugees and helping out with the humanitarian crisis in the country.

"What began as an expression of the legitimate aspiration of the Syrian people for better governance has now become a sectarian civil war in which extremist forces like Hezbollah and Iran fight on one side, and groups linked to al Qaeda commit atrocities on the other. I have grave concerns about the United States becoming an arms provider in this civil war. Supplying small arms and ammunition to certain rebel elements may help to stabilize the situation on the battlefield in the near term, but it will not alter the strategic balance. If and when this proves to be insufficient to affect the outcome, we will undoubtedly be called upon to provide even more powerful weaponry, to establish a no fly zone, or to risk American lives."

Schiff continued: "Instead, the U.S. should work with the international community and opposition to degrade the regime's capacity to utilize those weapons and hold those who have responsible as war criminals. We must be also be unstinting in our support of our regional partners who are hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees, and provide humanitarian parole to the many Syrian refugees with family in the United States who have approved immigration petitions. Ultimately, this conflict cannot be solved by force."


Find Your Local Farmers Markets: The products vary from market to market--based on what's locally grown or raised--but many farmers' markets sell fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, and other items. Using USDA's directory of farmers' markets, enter your ZIP code to find a market in your area. If you'd like to narrow down the options, specify the items you're seeking and your payment and location preferences.
You can always share your thoughts through Facebook or Twitter. Through these quick-read updates, I hope to keep you informed of my work at home and in Washington, D.C. on issues of interest to our communities, as well as provide an opportunity for you to keep me informed of your views and interests. As always, I welcome hearing from you on these and any other issues, and hope that you will stay in touch.


Congressman Adam Schiff

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