DeFazio Votes Against Broadest Legislative Attack on Americans Civil Liberties Since the Patriot Act
August 6, 2007
WASHINGTON, DC— Late Saturday night, Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) voted against legislation that represents the broadest legislative attack on the civil liberties of American citizens since passage of the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001. The House followed the Senate in adopting a broad rewrite of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) demanded by the President just days ago. The bill will allow the widespread wiretapping of American citizens without a warrant and with little oversight by the special FISA court. The bill actually authorizes powers that go beyond those the administration claimed for itself under the warrantless wiretapping program revealed in the media.
"I attended a classified briefing by the Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell earlier this week," DeFazio said. "I fully support spying on suspected terrorists, and I agree that new communication technologies have created a gap in our foreign surveillance program." Friday evening, DeFazio voted in favor of a narrower House bill that was designed to address the loophole that had arisen that restricted the ability of the National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on foreign communications that are routed through the U.S. telecommunications infrastructure. A gap publicly revealed by the House Republican Minority Leader on Tuesday.
"Unfortunately, rather than considering narrowly drawn legislation to close this gap, the administration once again overreached, demanding more power than necessary to protect our country and refusing to be subject to any independent oversight," DeFazio continued. "I could not support such a sweeping and unaccountable grant of authority, particularly to an administration that has done little to earn the trust of the American people or cooperate with congressional or judicial oversight."
While the House bill was approved by a majority, it was brought up under rules that required 2/3rds support to pass. After failure of the House bill, the House leadership brought up the Senate bill and passed it without amendment. The bill has already been signed by the President.