Foreign Intelligence Security Act (FISA) Amendments Act of 2008
March 14, 2008
As you may know, I have opposed all attempts by this President to limit our civil liberties or to circumvent our judicial system. Because of these strong beliefs, I was one of only 66 Members who voted against the original so-called PATRIOT Act.
Recently, I wrote to you about ongoing attempts to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, the law dating back to 1978 under which the government can collect foreign intelligence on US soil. President Bush and Republicans in the House have been insisting that the House simply take up a version of this update passed by the Senate, which includes retroactive civil immunity for telecom providers who helped the President with his warrantless surveillance program. The House has resisted these calls and today considered an amendment to the Senate's version of the legislation.
The House approach is not perfect but it is a vast improvement over the Senate version. It seeks to strike the right balance over collecting information from those who seek to do us harm and protecting our cherished civil liberties. I was pleased that the bill does not grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies and requires that the Administration implement procedures designed to protect Americans' civil liberties before beginning surveillance. This bill is certainly more in line with the type of legislation I would consider supporting than the Senate legislation. However, in the final analysis I did not believe it met the Fourth Amendment test and I could not support it. I voted NO. The House Amendment passed and the entire vote is recorded below:
Contact: Alison M. Mills (617) 621-6208
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