Discussing FISA on Bloomberg

Transcript: 

i am joined by steny hoyer, a democrat from maryland. sir, welcome to the program. >> kathleen, good to be with you. >> i want to start by asking you, president bush said because the house is unable to pass fisa, this made it harder to protect americans, his words. what do you think of that statement? >> that's wrong, and his own administration people have said it's wrong. normally i don't do this in an interview, but i want to read a comment from ben powell, the general counsel of the office of national intelligence. he's the general counsel, he says this -- just to make sure there is no misunderstanding, we will not, for the directives in place, the expiration of the protect america act will not then shave back on the surveillance authorities under those exact directives. in other words, all of the authorities presently in place will remain in place, nothing will happen. we are going to make sure that the government continues to have the ability to intercept foreign to for ken communications without hind's, and will be able to follow through on every authority given under this act. the only thing happening is the republicans refused to keep an act in place for the next 21 days, which they say is critical to the protection of the united states. ben powell, their counsel director of national intelligence said, no, that's not the case, we will not cut back on surveillance. we think the counsel is correct. america is going to be on guard against those who would cause us harm, but we are also going to be on guard to do the legislation in the right way. the senate delayed passage, didn't send it to us until tuesday night, it was impossible to have a conference to get to an agreement without extension, the republicans denied us that extension but we are pursuing and had meetings today with the committee charities move ahead and utilize them so we can have an agreement to have a strong law that goes for a period of time. as both the house-passed bill and senate bill suggests doing. >> representative hoyer, let's look ahead to the legislation that will get passed and whether you are going to support it or not. a key part of the senate-passed measure is it gives the telecommunications companies protection from privacy lawsuits for helping president bush conduct wiretapping after the september 11th terror attacks. now, if you want the capion of the phone companies, how important is it to protect them from lawsuits, and will you support that? >> we have, in the bill, i voted for protecting in our restore act, we protect the telecommunications company going forward. what the administration is asking us to do, without knowing exactly what conduct was pursued, to excuse conduct, give immunity, amnesty, if you will, for conduct that happened in the past which may or may not have been proper. we don't have that information, yet, we need that information. but let me make it clear, immunity for what has happened has nothing to do with security now or in the days of head, we have given prospective immunity. they will of immunity acting pursuant to a court order. the question is was that appropriate given the circumstances, we need to find that out, but it has nothing to do, absolutely nothing to do with our security going forward. admiral mcconnell tried to make the point it was critical in order to have the telecommunications companies cooperate with us. the telecommunications companies are patriotic and want to cooperate and will, in fact, cooperate. all this means they will have to act pursuant to lieu, not pursuant simply to a question from the intelligence community. >> i want to clarify one point. >> sure. >> you, on the face, are not against giving them immunity for lawsuits after september 11th you are saying you need more information? >> let me make it clear, what i said was we already in legislation voted for immunizing behavior moving forward, pursuant to court order and statutory authority. the question that the administration is try to effect is what happened in the past. the problem be is we are not sure. therefore it's difficult to immunize conduct that we don't know its nature. >> that's something you will keep under consideration? >> absolutely and it will be part of our discussions, yes. >> the economic stimulus bill, ...