Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Chambliss Applauds Passage of Intelligence Surveillance Bill

U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today applauded the Senate’s passage of legislation to update and improve the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and urged the House to act before the February 15th deadline. Chambliss said he was pleased that immunity for telecommunications providers was not stripped out of the final legislation.

“I cannot stress how critically important this legislation is to our intelligence community’s ability to protect our nation. Since the FISA law was first implemented several decades ago, technology has advanced and so have terrorist organizations and their capabilities. If we are going to protect our homeland, protect our troops in the field and our allies as well, we need to make certain our ability to collect intelligence is not hindered. I’m pleased my colleagues were able to come together in a bipartisan way and pass this legislation which will ensure our intelligence community has the tools and the legal framework necessary to collect vital foreign intelligence information.

“There has been a great deal of debate about the issue of immunity for telecommunications providers. After careful review, the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded overwhelmingly that granting liability relief to telecommunications providers was not only warranted, but required to maintain the regular assistance our intelligence and law enforcement professionals seek from them. Too often the government needs assistance from the private sector in order to protect our national security as well as for law enforcement purposes, and in return they should be able to rely on the government's assurances that the assistance they provide is lawful and necessary for our national security. American companies should not be subjected to costly legal battles, and Americans should not have to supplement it through higher telephone and Internet bills. Providing immunity to our telecommunications carriers is the necessary and responsible action for Congress to take.”

Chambliss noted that the urgent need to pass terrorist surveillance legislation was underscored in a recent threat hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, where leaders in the intelligence community testified that America continues to face serious threats from homegrown and foreign terrorists and rogue nations seeking weapons of mass destruction. The Director of National Intelligence, and the Directors of the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation, testified to the importance of terrorist surveillance legislation calling it one of the most important tools the intelligence community has to keep America safe.

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