Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Conyers, Goodlatte, Nadler, Sensenbrenner Press Senate to Pass USA FREEDOM Act

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.), Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), and Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) issued the following statement urging the Senate to pass the USA Freedom Act of 2015.

“The House of Representatives passed the USA Freedom Act last week by an overwhelming, bipartisan vote of 338-88.  If the Senate rejects the USA Freedom Act, Section 215—and likely the NSA program that some in the Senate are trying to preserve—will expire before we reconvene on the evening of June 1.

“The USA Freedom Act protects Americans’ civil liberties and enhances our national security. It ends bulk collection of data, increases transparency, and prevents government overreach.  The bill also preserves key intelligence-gathering authorities.  Section 215 will remain a valuable counterterrorism tool for the FBI and a targeted call detail records authority will replace the NSA’s current, unlawful program.

“If Section 215 is allowed to expire, these tools will simply disappear.  The Senate will have blocked reform at great cost to the intelligence community.  The USA Freedom Act is the only option that does not lead down that path.  We once again urge the Senate to take up and pass the USA Freedom Act without delay.”

Correcting the Record on Section 215

Myth:  Congress can act on June 1st to reauthorize or amend Section 215.

Fact:   Three provisions of the Patriot Act, including Section 215, are set to expire at midnight on May 31, before the House is back in session. According to the Congressional Research Service, ‘absent any reauthorization, beginning at 12:00 AM in the morning of June 1, 2015, §§ 501 and 502 of FISA would read as they read on October 25, 2001.’  Moreover, the current FISA court order authorizing the NSA’s bulk telephone metadata program expires on June 1 at 5:00 p.m.

Myth:  The USA Freedom Act reverts our intelligence-gathering programs to a pre-9/11 posture.

Fact:   The USA Freedom Act enacts sweeping reforms to surveillance programs – ending bulk collection, creating a panel of experts at the FISA court, and mandating transparency – but the bill also preserves key authorities.  Section 215 will remain a valuable counterterrorism tool for the FBI.  A targeted, narrowly-tailored call detail records authority will replace the NSA’s current, unlawful program. Additionally, the USA Freedom Act enhances national security by providing targeted tools to keep America safe.

Myth:  A brief sunset of Section 215 and other authorities under the Patriot Act is a mere technicality. 

Fact:   If the Senate chooses to allow these authorities to expire, they should do so knowing that sunset may be permanent. The USA Freedom Act has earned the support of the White House, the intelligence community, privacy and civil liberties advocates, and private industry.  Nearly every member of the House of Representatives demands reform to these authorities.  No such coalition exists for a clean reenactment of Section 215. 
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