Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wolf Votes Against Checks and Balances

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H RES 746 (the Responsible Electronic Surveillance That is Overseen, Reviewed, and Effective Act of 2007 or “Restore Act of 2007”) by a vote of 223-196. Frank Wolf voted against it, in lockstep with the White House and the House Republican leadership as usual. Here is what Frank Wolf voted against today:

*"This bill provides the Intelligence Community with effective tools to conduct surveillance of foreign targets outside the United States but restores Constitutional checks and balances that were not contained in President Bush’s bill, the Protect America Act (PAA)."

*"Clarifies that No Court Warrant is Required to Intercept Communications of Non-United States Persons When Both Ends of the Communications are Outside the United States."

*"Requires an Individualized Court Warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court When Targeting Persons in the United States."

*Reinstates "Court Review of Targeting Procedures," "Court Review of Minimization Procedures," and "Court Review of Guidelines."

*"The bill clarifies and eliminates ambiguous language in the PAA that appeared to authorize warrantless searches inside the United States, including physical searches of American homes, offices, computers, and medical records."

*"If the government learns that the target of surveillance is a U.S. person (say, an American traveling abroad), it cannot use this new authority."

*"Requires quarterly audits by the Justice Department Inspector General (DOJ IG) on communications collected under this authority..."

*"The bill is silent on retroactive immunity because the Administration has refused to provide Congress with documents on the specifics of the President’s warrantless surveillance program. However, the bill does provide prospective immunity for those complying with court orders issued pursuant to this authority."

*"Sunsets this new authority on December 31, 2009, when certain PATRIOT Act provisions sunset."

In other words, this bill provides all the tools necessary to fight foreign terrorists and threats to our country while safeguarding the constitutional rights and freedoms of law-abiding American citizens. Frank Wolf apparently would rather give the Bush administration nearly unlimited powers to eavesdrop on whoever it wants, whenever it wants, without serious oversight or checks and balances. Once again, Frank Wolf proves that he cares more about defending the Bush administration than about defending the U.S. constitution and the freedoms of American citizens.

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