Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) today issued the following statement on legislation produced by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA):
“Leaders of the House Judiciary Committee worked for months with civil liberties advocates, Members of Congress – including members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence – the intelligence community, and other stakeholders on legislation to reform and reauthorize FISA Section 702. As a result of our hard work, the House Judiciary Committee passed the USA Liberty Act with broad bipartisan support. The USA Liberty Act is the only bill that protects both national security and Americans’ civil liberties, is the best and most viable proposal introduced to date, and would pass in the House of Representatives overwhelmingly if brought up for a vote. We remain willing to work with all interested parties, including HPSCI, to reform and reauthorize this critical national security tool.”
Background: Earlier this month, the House Judiciary Committee approved by a vote of 27-8 the USA Liberty Act (H.R. 3989), a bipartisan bill that reforms and reauthorizes FISA Section 702 to protect both national security and Americans’ civil liberties. The bill was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Representative John Rutherford (R-Fla.), and Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.). A summary of the bill can be found here.
FISA Section 702, which will expire on December 31, 2017, authorizes surveillance of the communications of non-U.S. persons located outside of the United States in order to protect national security. It reportedly contributes to a quarter of all National Security Agency surveillance and has been used on multiple occasions to detect and prevent horrific terrorist plots against our country. Although Congress designed this authority to target non-U.S. persons located outside of the United States, it is clear that Section 702 surveillance programs can and do incidentally collect information about U.S. persons when U.S. persons communicate with the foreign targets of Section 702 surveillance.