Whitfield Applauds FISA Bill to Strengthen National Security and Protect Americans' Civil Liberties
WASHINGTON - U.S. Representative Ed Whitfield (KY-01) applauded the passage of a critical anti-terror law today which will give intelligence officers the ability to monitor foreign terrorists, protect American companies who help the government detect and prevent terrorist attacks and guard the civil liberties of all Americans.
"Modernizing our terrorist surveillance laws is critical to protecting our national security and keeping Americans safe both at home and abroad," Whitfield said. "The bipartisan legislation the House passed today will give our nation's intelligence officers the tools and authority they need to monitor terrorists while upholding the sacred civil liberties of all Americans."
Whitfield voted for and the House passed, H.R. 6304, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008. This bill closes a terrorist loophole in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that requires American intelligence officers to obtain a warrant before intercepting terrorist communications abroad.
The legislation passed today will overhaul and reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to reflect changes in communications technology since the Act was first passed 30 years ago. The bill allows for new foreign surveillance without a court order when critical intelligence would be lost due to time constraints and provides a process for federal court review of such surveillance after the fact. The legislation also allows our nation's intelligence community to monitor terrorist communications overseas at the request of the federal government without fear of legal prosecution.
The bipartisan legislation passed today represents a compromise reached by Democrats and Republicans. Last August, Congress passed the Protect America Act of 2007 which closed the terrorist loophole in the FISA law. However, the Protect America Act expired on February 16, 2008 and Whitfield has been calling on leadership in Congress to update the FISA law ever since. The bill passed today represents a compromise reached by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle with the support of many members of the American intelligence community.