Sensenbrenner Statement on PATRIOT Act Vote
Feb 8, 2011 -
“I am disappointed in the outcome of tonight’s vote on extending three provisions in the PATRIOT Act. This was nothing but Democrats playing politics with national security, and their arguments ring hollow.
“Since this law was enacted, these provisions have been scrutinized to the fullest extent of the law and have always been found constitutional. These three provisions have stopped countless potential attacks and play a critical role in helping ensure law enforcement officials have the tools they need to keep our country safe.
“As the Democrats decided to play politics tonight, rather than worry about the safety of our country, we are now under a time crunch. Only seven legislative days remain before these provisions expire and our nation is placed at a greater security risk.
“We must not let our guard down. These are needed provisions to keep America safe and I urge the House to bring this bill up again for another vote and urge the United States Senate to act quickly to reauthorize these provisions.”
The three provisions that are set to expire are Section 206, 215 and 6001.
Section 206 of the PATRIOT Act provides for roving surveillance of targets who take measures to thwart Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) surveillance. Without roving wiretap authority, investigators would be forced to seek a new court order each time they need to change the location, phone, or computer that needs to be monitored, wasting valuable time.
Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act allows the FBI to apply to the FISA court to issue orders granting the government access to any tangible items in foreign intelligence, international terrorism and clandestine intelligence cases. The PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 significantly expanded the safeguards against potential abuse of Section 215 authority, including additional Congressional oversight, application requirements and judicial review. When last reported by the Administration, this provision had been used more than 230 times to keep us safe.
And Section 6001 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act of 2004 offers a definition for a ‘lone wolf’ agent of a foreign power and also allows a non-United States person who ‘engages in international terrorist activities’ to be considered an agent of a foreign power under FISA, even though the specific foreign power remains unidentified. This provision is essential, as it closes a gap in FISA that, if permitted to expire, could allow an individual terrorist to slip through the cracks and endanger thousands of innocent lives. When FISA was originally enacted in the 1970s, terrorists were believed to be members of an identified group. That is no longer the case and we need to respond accordingly.
Congressman Sensenbrenner was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee when the PATRIOT Act was first introduced and then signed into law. He authored the bill and its 2005 reauthorization.