06.19.08

Exclusivity Provision First Introduced in Congress by Schiff and Flake Included in New FISA Compromise Legislation

Official Seal of the US House of Representatives

Thursday, June 19, 2008 Contact: Sean Oblack (202) 225-4176

Exclusivity Provision First Introduced in Congress by Schiff and Flake Included in New FISA Compromise Legislation

Washington, DC – Today, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) welcomed the inclusion of language declaring the "exclusivity" of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) as a legal basis for surveillance for intelligence gathering purposes.  The bipartisan legislation, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Acts of 2008, includes language – first proposed by Schiff and Flake in 2006 -- to ensure that FISA and the federal criminal wiretap statutes are the sole means for conducting electronic surveillance on U.S. soil.

“More than two years after we found out that the President was asserting the authority to eavesdrop on Americans without court approval, Congress is set to pass a measure that says otherwise,” said Schiff.  “The exclusivity provision included in this bill will make it clear that FISA and federal criminal wiretap statutes are the only legal basis for the surveillance of Americans – without exception."

“It’s imperative that FISA’s exclusivity in domestic intelligence gathering be codified in law, and that’s precisely what this bill does,” said Flake.

Reps. Schiff and Flake have long worked together to modernize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to respond to changes in technology and new threats while at the same time protecting American civil liberties.  In 2006, they were the first in Congress to author FISA exclusivity language, and in 2007 the House, for the first time, passed a FISA exclusivity amendment, authored by the two Congressmen. Lastly, Reps. Schiff and Flake also authored an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill in 2006 that came within 7 votes of shutting down the President’s Terrorist Surveillance Program unless it was brought under court supervision.