Schiff, Flake, Offer Bipartisan Amendment to Address Concerns Over the President's Domestic Surveillance Program

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ), members of the House Judiciary Committee, will offer an amendment in the House Rules Committee later today to address the President's domestic surveillance program.  If the Rules Committee makes the amendment in order, it will be considered on the House Floor tomorrow during debate on the Intelligence Authorization Act (H.R. 5020). 

“Current law allows the Administration the ability to ensure that all American’s right to privacy is protected while obtaining wiretaps in a timely and confidential manner through a proper court of law,” said Rep. Schiff.  “When Congress said the Administration must get court approval for domestic surveillance, we meant it.  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 amendment on NSA oversight 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 FISA laws.
  3. Require Congressional Action - makes clear that current laws apply unless Congress amends the laws or passes additional laws regarding electronic surveillance.
  4. Require a 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 warrantless 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.

Congresswoman Jane Harman, Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Congressman Bob Inglis (R-SC), another member of the House Judiciary Committee, have also signed on as original cosponsors of the amendment. 

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.