FISA law updated by PA Act

Published 4:46 am Monday, February 18, 2008

By Staff
Since last August, the Democratic House majority has played political games with a critical anti-terror law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, passing one temporary extension after another.
It's been more than 30 years since Congress first enacted FISA, and in that time, telecommunications technology as well as the threats that face America have changed dramatically.
The Protect America Act is temporary legislation that updates FISA - filling gaps and loopholes in the original, dated legislation. First passed in August, the Protect America Act is set to expire this weekend.
The ongoing debate reached a new low last week when the Democratic majority chose to adjourn for the President's Day recess without considering the bipartisan bill passed by the Senate.
The current 15-day extension expired at midnight on Saturday. After this time, our intelligence community will be forced to go through needless bureaucratic hurdles to open new terrorist surveillance cases.
According to Glenn Sulmasy, an expert on national security law and a fellow at Harvard University, “While the Protect America Act has only been in effect for just over six months, the impact of the legislation has been considerable.
By a vote of 68-29, the Senate last week passed a bipartisan bill updating FISA. The president as well as a number of Democrats and many Republicans in both the Senate and the House have indicated they can support the Senate bill.
House Republicans demanded the majority bring the Senate bill to the House floor, but House Democrats refused. In protest of letting this critical legislation expire, House Republicans pledged to stay in Washington during the upcoming recess to complete this bill; however, the majority instead chose to go home.
As members of Congress return to their congressional districts this week, terrorists will not stop plotting deadly attacks on our homeland. It is the responsibility of Congress to update the laws that govern our intelligence community.
We are a nation at war, and by allowing this legislation to expire, the Democratic majority has undermined the ability of our intelligence officials to protect us.
Our national security should not be sacrificed to scoring political points and headlines. It is in our national interest that Congress pass the bipartisan Senate legislation without further delay.
My staff and I work for you.  If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721.
Jo Bonner represents Alabama's first Congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He may be reached through his Web site at

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