Congressman Bill Pascrell

Representing the 9th District of NEW JERSEY

RESTORE Act Of 2007

Oct 17, 2007
Floor Speech



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   Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Florida, and I rise this morning to speak in favor of the rule on the RESTORE Act, H.R. 3773. I believe this is an appropriate rule given the large number of amendments that were considered in both the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees.

   I want to highlight some of the most important provisions in the bill provided through this rule and steps that I believe can be taken to strengthen the intent of the legislation.

   Mr. Speaker, section 5 of the current legislation requires quarterly audits by the Justice Department Inspector General on communications collected under this legislation, which would then be provided to the FISA Court and to Congress. In the end, the issue is that without outside oversight, such as the FISA Court, you put a huge amount of authority in the hands of a very small number of people and leave an awful lot to their individual judgment in dealing with very sensitive issues of personal privacy.

   I hope that under this section the Justice Department Inspector General would also be inclined to include statistical information, as is possible, relating to the sex, race, ethnicity, religion and age of U.S. persons identified in intelligence reports obtained pursuant to the legislation. This data will help our intelligence agencies, the FISA Court and the Congress to gain a clear overview of intelligence collection on Americans swept up through these types of investigations and would create the necessary oversight to judge whether a pattern of profiling is occurring.

   I want to draw attention to the Schakowsky amendment which was approved by the Intelligence Committee. This would require that the FISA Court approve guidelines to ensure that an individual FISA court order is sought when the significant purpose of an acquisition is to acquire the communications of a specific U.S. person reasonably believed to be located in the United States. This is a vital provision to the bill that makes clear that no American can be the target of surveillance under this bill unless an individual warrant is obtained from the FISA Court.

   Under this provision, I hope we will also make clear the sensitivity surrounding communications between Americans and family members who may live abroad. We need to make certain that no American, regardless of their foreign family connections, can be the target of surveillance without an individual warrant being obtained from the FISA Court.

   We're not trying to protect foreigners. We're trying to protect Americans and safeguarding the Constitution.

   I thank the Speaker for the time. I want to thank you, and I hope that the Members will approve the appropriate rule on the RESTORE Act. I thank my friend.