Thursday, July 10, 2008

Statement of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on the FISA Amendments Act of 2008

Posted on http://clinton.senate.gov/
One of the great challenges before us as a nation is remaining steadfast in our fight against terrorism while preserving our commitment to the rule of law and individual liberty. As a senator from New York on September 11, I understand the importance of taking any and all necessary steps to protect our nation from those who would do us harm. I believe strongly that we must modernize our surveillance laws in order to provide intelligence professionals the tools needed to fight terrorism and make our country more secure. However, any surveillance program must contain safeguards to protect the rights of Americans against abuse, and to preserve clear lines of oversight and accountability over this administration. I applaud the efforts of my colleagues who negotiated this legislation, and I respect my colleagues who reached a different conclusion on today’s vote. I do so because this is a difficult issue. Nonetheless, I could not vote for the legislation in its current form.

The legislation would overhaul the law that governs the administration’s surveillance activities. Some of the legislation’s provisions place guidelines and restrictions on the operational details of the surveillance activities, others increase judicial and legislative oversight of those activities, and still others relate to immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in the administration’s surveillance activities.

While this legislation does strengthen oversight of the administration’s surveillance activities over previous drafts, in many respects, the oversight in the bill continues to come up short. For instance, while the bill nominally calls for increased oversight by the FISA Court, its ability to serve as a meaningful check on the President’s power is debatable. The clearest example of this is the limited power given to the FISA Court to review the government’s targeting and minimization procedures.

But the legislation has other significant shortcomings. The legislation makes no meaningful change to the immunity provisions. There is little disagreement that the legislation effectively grants retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies. In my judgment, immunity under these circumstances has the practical effect of shutting down a critical avenue for holding the administration accountable for its conduct. It is precisely why I have supported efforts in the Senate to strip the bill of these provisions, both today and during previous debates on this subject. Unfortunately, these efforts have been unsuccessful.

What is more, even as we considered this legislation, the administration refused to allow the overwhelming majority of Senators to examine the warrantless wiretapping program. This made it exceedingly difficult for those Senators who are not on the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees to assess the need for the operational details of the legislation, and whether greater protections are necessary. The same can be said for an assessment of the telecom immunity provisions. On an issue of such tremendous importance to our citizens – and in particular to New Yorkers – all Senators should have been entitled to receive briefings that would have enabled them to make an informed decision about the merits of this legislation. I cannot support this legislation when we know neither the nature of the surveillance activities authorized nor the role played by telecommunications companies granted immunity.

Congress must vigorously check and balance the president even in the face of dangerous enemies and at a time of war. That is what sets us apart. And that is what is vital to ensuring that any tool designed to protect us is used – and used within the law – for that purpose and that purpose alone. I believe my responsibility requires that I vote against this compromise, and I will continue to pursue reforms that will improve our ability to collect intelligence in our efforts to combat terror and to oversee that authority in Congress.
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Incase you don't know what FISA is all about watch this video

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6 comments:

Beth said...

Thank you for posting this statement.

Can I ask where it's from? Was it sent to an email list?

A said...

It was posted on http://clinton.senate.gov/news/statements/details.cfm?id=300338&&

Beth said...

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Looking at all the options: Obama, Clinton, McCain, Clinton is by far and away the most qualified. And, it ain't over 'till it's over. Obama is only the presumptive nominee. At this point, the fact remains that neither Obama nor Clinton have enough delegates to win the nomination. It hinges on super delegates. Lobby them. Express your voice (articulately and respectfully). Do something each day to advocate for Hillary Clinton in the White House. Check out PUMApac.com as well as this site. PUMA tends to have a bit more in the way of guidance and resources for daily action. Do it! The clock is ticking and the convention is looming right ahead.

Anonymous said...

Now if Hillary would quit campaigning with/for Obama, wouldn't tht be great?!*

Patricia said...

I applaud Hillary for not voting for something that she's unsure of...It would be the samething that she would do...IF she were to become our President...Hillary is by far the most qualified...she has the "experience" to be in the White House...Hillary has the makings to run this country and I totally agree with "comment 4"...it ain't over until it's over"...let the Convention decide who should be the Democratic candidate...WE all know who it should be....HILLARY....2008!!!