03.16.06

Schiff, Flake Introduce Bipartisan bill, the "NSA Oversight Act"

Washington, D.C. – Two members of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ), introduced legislation today to address the NSA’s surveillance program.

On introducing the NSA Oversight Act, Rep. Schiff stated:  “When Congress passed FISA and Title III, it intended to provide the sole authority for surveillance of Americans on American soil.  Those acts require court approval for such surveillance, and the FISA court has proved capable of acting expeditiously.  If the law needs to be revised to meet new challenges in the war on terrorism, the Administration should come to Congress and make the case for statutory change.”

“The Administration has made a powerful case as to why this power is needed and I would support giving it to them, as I think most Members of Congress would,” stated Rep. Flake.  “However, it's unclear that they currently have that power.”

The bill, the NSA OVERSIGHT ACT, would:

  1. Reiterate Exclusivity of Current FISA and Wiretap Laws - states that FISA and the federal criminal wiretap statutes shall continue to be the exclusive means by which domestic electronic surveillance may be conducted.
  2. Clarify Military Force Statute - makes clear that the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), passed days after the September 11th attacks, does not provide an exception to that rule.
  3. Require Congressional Action - makes clear that current laws apply unless Congress amends the laws or passes additional laws regarding electronic surveillance.
  4. Require Report on the Extent of the Wiretapping Program - requires classified disclosure to Congress of information about U.S. persons who have been the subject of any such electronic surveillance.

Reps. Schiff and Flake previously teamed up to protect the civil liberties of Americans while ensuring that our national security needs are met.  Last year, the two secured passage of an amendment to the Patriot Act to provide additional safeguards for library and bookstore records.

Congressman Schiff is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and represents California’s 29th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Alhambra, Altadena, Burbank, East Pasadena, East San Gabriel, Glendale, Monterey Park, Pasadena, San Gabriel, South Pasadena and Temple City.

Congressman Flake is the former executive director of the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix, and represents the Sixth Congressional District of Arizona. This district includes parts of Mesa and Chandler and all of Gilbert, Queen Creek, and Apache Junction.

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