DECEMBER 17TH, 2007 | ryan.alexander
Tom Harkin released the following statement today regarding his decision to vote no today on cloture on the motion to proceed on the FISA bill, which would have given immunity for phone companies who participated in the illegal wiretapping of American citizens:
The government’s first duty is to protect the American people. That is why I fully support giving our intelligence community the surveillance tools they need to fully monitor and track terrorists.
I was deeply troubled by the act passed in August. It permitted the government unchecked surveillance of American citizens without meaningful court oversight and approval. It permitted the government to monitor calls between businesspeople, tourists, our troops overseas to their families, or to family and friends abroad. I cannot support legislation that does not protect the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens who have done nothing wrong.
The Protect Act stripped the FISA court of its authority to act as a check to ensure the constitutional rights of American citizens.
The bills that passed both the Intelligence Committee and the Judiciary Committee are significant improvements. While protecting our national security, both include important safeguards for the privacy rights of American citizens and ensure meaningful checks on the Administration.
I am troubled, however, that the Intelligence bill grants immunity to telecommunications companies who knowingly aided in the illegal wiretapping of American citizens. Tellingly, Quest, which provides services throughout Iowa, chose not to comply with the Administration’s request for assistance because they believed it was clear on its face that the program was illegal and unconstitutional. I do not believe companies that participated in clear illegalities should get a free pass. That is why I voted against cloture today to bring up the Intelligence bill and why I have co-sponsored an amendment that will strike the immunity provision.