Senate Democrats

Reid: Senate Will Explore Long-Term Fixes To FISA In September

Washington, D.C.—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent the following letter today to Senators Jay Rockefeller and Pat Leahy, encouraging them to develop long-term modernizations to FISA that better serve our national security interests than the law signed by President Bush this month:

August 14, 2007

The Honorable John D. Rockefeller IV
Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy
Chairman, Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Jay and Pat:

On August 3rd the Senate passed and on August 5th President Bush signed legislation (Public Law 110-55) providing temporary six-month changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in light of the Director of National Intelligence’s expressed concerns about a recently-emerged gap in foreign counterterrorism intelligence collection.  This issue was given even greater urgency because of the recently-published National Intelligence Estimate on the terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland, which indicates that, after six years of Bush Administration counterterrorism efforts, the threat to the homeland today from Al Qaeda is nearly as great as it was before 9/11. 

I know both of you share my disappointment at the process that led to passage of the recent law, and at the flawed outcome itself, which you and I and many others strongly opposed.  The temporary authorities in the new law will sunset in six months.  While these temporary authorities are in effect, I support all efforts by your two committees to conduct vigorous and comprehensive oversight of their implementation. 

I also know that your committees have been working exhaustively on sound options for a longer-term change to FISA, even though your work has been hindered by lack of cooperation from the Administration in providing relevant information.  When the Senate reconvenes in September, I fully support your committees working expeditiously together and in a bipartisan manner to develop a longer-term statutory change that better serves American national security interests and comports with the Constitution and proper judicial and congressional oversight.  I would like to see the full Senate consider as soon as possible a bill reported by your committees that addresses the deficiencies in the recently-enacted law and any other matter you believe must be addressed.

Thank you for your leadership on these matters.


                                                                        HARRY REID