Rep. Zoe Lofgren on Opposing FISA Reauthorization

September 12, 2012
Press Release

emRep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), a senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, delivered the following remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives during debate of H.R. 5949, the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2012:

"Thank you Mr. Chairman and Mr. Speaker. I urge this body to reject this bill.

"You know, the surveillance bill raises several serious Constitutional and civil liberties issues that Congress needs to address and has not addressed in this bill. I'd like to discuss one of those.

"Congress should prohibit the federal government from intentionally searching for information on a U.S. person in a data pool amassed lawfully under Sec. 702 of FISA, should such a data pool ever be amassed, unless the searching official has a warrant.

"Now, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA), does not make it clear that the government must obtain a warrant prior to searching for information acquired incidentally on a U.S. person in a large pool of data that the government has already lawfully obtained under Sec. 702 ‹ should such a data pool ever be amassed.

"Instead, the information about U.S. persons in such a situation is subject to "minimization procedures" adopted by the Attorney General, and that must be approved by the FISA Court. But that does not explicitly include a warrant requirement, which I think the Constitution requires.

"The prohibition on "reverse targeting," where the government deliberately targets a non-U.S. person for the purpose of acquiring information about the U.S. person at the other end of the line, is not a substitute for the warrant requirement to search a database for a U.S. person — should such a database ever be amassed under Sec. 702.

"Minimization procedures" are not a substitute for a warrant in such a case.

"I think that the government needs to comply with the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution all the time. I think that the privacy of Americans should not be subject to the lower standard of "minimization procedures." That's not in the Constitution.

"And I think, also, that when we think that we should trade the protections that our Founding Fathers devised for us in the United States Constitution — in the effort to buy safety — we're mistaken.

"We can be safe while still complying with the Constitution of the United States.

"I'm mindful that we began this Congress reading most of the United States Constitution on the floor of this House. It's ironic indeed that we should be ending this Congress with a bill that does violation to that very body."

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Click here for video of Rep. Lofgren's remarks.