Bipartisan FISA Compromise Reached

For Immediate Release:

June 19, 2008

Contact:Stacey Farnen Bernards
(202) 225 - 3130

 
WASHINGTON – Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman John “Jay” Rockefeller (WV), Senate Intelligence Committee Vice-Chair Kit Bond (MO), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD), and House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (MO) announced today that a bipartisan compromise has been agreed to that will modernize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. 
 
The FISA Amendments Act, H.R. 6304, will increase the nation’s security by strengthening the ability of the intelligence community to conduct lawful surveillance of terrorists, as well as protect constitutional rights by requiring warrants before the government can surveil any American.
 
“This bipartisan bill balances the needs of our intelligence community with Americans’ civil liberties, and provides critical new oversight and accountability requirements,” said Hoyer.  “It is the result of compromise, and like any compromise is not perfect, but I believe it strikes a sound balance.  Furthermore, we have ensured that Congress can revisit these issues because the legislation will sunset at the end of 2012.”
 
“For months, leaders of both parties in both the House and the Senate have been working to find middle ground on FISA.  Both sides have had to compromise – coming up with a legislative proposal that we individually would have written much differently,” said Blunt.   “Clearly, House Republicans have long believed that the Senate FISA bill was the best way forward – and do not believe that the courts should hold the ultimate decision over how and when terrorist communications are monitored overseas.  During this process, we all worked from the very basic premise that we had to find a way to modernize FISA to ensure that our intelligence community has the tools it needs to continue monitoring foreign-based, terrorist communications, while maintaining the protections of individual liberties contained in the existing FISA law. I believe we have accomplished that in this bill.”
 
"At its core this historic, bipartisan agreement to modernize FISA is about providing an essential tool in the fight against terrorism.  It meets our dual obligations to make our Nation safe and restore the privacy protections and civil liberties Americans require,” Rockefeller said. “After a long, hard process of give and take, this FISA bill will prevent any repeat of warrantless surveillance undertaken by the President and will hold our government accountable for its actions, past and future, through strengthened court review and congressional oversight.”
 
“Last year Congress passed the Protect America Act, which closed a dangerous intelligence gap that allowed terrorists to use technology to stay a step ahead of terror-fighters.  Since the expiration of that bill, our intelligence community has been forced to operate under a temporary system that could impede their ability to track new terrorist threats,” said Bond.  “Today we reached a bipartisan solution that will put the intelligence community back in business, protect American families from attack and protect our civil liberties.”
 
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