Friday, June 20, 2008

FISA: Compromise Fails to Strike Adequate Balance Between Our Security and Our Liberty

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz:
I firmly believe that Congress has no greater responsibility than keeping our country safe.  In November, and again in March, I voted to give our Commander-in-Chief the legal tools he needs to track terrorists, intercept their communications and disrupt their plots because that legislation also protected core American civil liberties that make our country great – and make our country worth fighting for.

To be sure, this compromise, which is the product of the strong leadership and skilled negotiations of Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, is a significant improvement upon the Bush Administration's illegal program and the Senate bill.  However, it does not, in my view, strike the adequate balance between our security and our liberty. This bill plainly allows the government to monitor Americans' international communications without a warrant, even when they have no connection to terrorism. What is more, court review of these private communications is completely eviscerated under the compromise legislation. I believe the terrorists "win" when we unnecessarily forfeit core American values.

As a member of the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, I simply cannot support a bill that perpetuates a troubling precedent and will ultimately lead to the gradual disappearance of other important privacy rights we hold dear. Although I have deep respect for the hard work and difficult decisions that have been made during this process – I ultimately believe that the only thing compromised in this legislation is law-abiding Americans' right to be free from unreasonable government intrusion. We need not choose between our security and our liberty. We can have both.

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