WASHINGTON – Federal legislation to better protect the nation against terrorism while safeguarding Americans’ personal liberties won the support today of Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.).
Sen. Carper voted for final Senate passage of an updated and modernized Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which passed the Senate 68 to 29.
After months of thoughtful debate, the key provisions of S. 2248 will strengthen national security by providing the intelligence community the tools it needs in the 21st century to target non-U.S. citizens who threaten American security.
“This bill strikes the right balance between protecting Americans’ privacy while making sure our government has the tools it needs to stop terrorists,” Sen. Carper said. “I believe this bill now includes appropriate court and congressional oversight of our surveillance activities.”
The bill also protects Americans by increasing the role of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to review and approve surveillance of U.S. citizens overseas and ensures traditional FISA warrant rules still apply for purely domestic communications.
The FISA bill also increases oversight and accountability of government actions by requiring that additional data on intelligence gathering be reported in semi-annual reports to Congress on intelligence collection; yearly audits be conducted of the surveillance program; and relevant Offices of Inspector General review the impact of new authorities on U.S. citizens and communications.
This Senate bill must now be reconciled with the FISA legislation that passed the House of Representatives and then it will be sent onto President Bush to sign into law. The previous FISA legislation is set to expire this Friday, Feb. 15, 2008. If the House and Senate do not reach agreement on the final legislation by Friday, surveillance activities needed to protect U.S. interests are permitted to continue.