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Judiciary Hearing on Warrantless Surveillance and FISA

September 18, 2007

The Judiciary Committee is currently holding a hearing, “Warrantless Surveillance and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: The Role of Checks and Balances in Protecting Americans' Privacy Rights (Part II).” Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and Assistant Attorney General for National Security Kenneth Wainstein will testify.

Watch the hearing live via committee webcast or on C Span 3.

Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers gives opening remarks:

Chairman Conyers:
“The right to privacy is too important to be sacrificed in a last-minute rush before a Congressional recess, which is what happened. The need for national consensus in our efforts to track down terrorists and foil their plots is too important to ignore the constructive concerns of the Congress and the courts. We on this committee are ready and willing to work with the Administration, but they need to show us that they are ready to fix this broken law and ready to truly join forces in common cause against terror. Our system of democracy demands no less…”

Chairman Jerrold Nadler of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, gives opening remarks:

Chairman Nadler:
“We must not forget the lessons of history. Both the Fourth Amendment and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act were responses to abuses by government officials who thought they were above the law. We all agree that we want to protect our national security and that foreign intelligence gathering is fundamentally different from domestic surveillance. However, we should also agree that the power to invade people’s privacy must not be exercised unchecked. As we consider how to fix the Protect America Act, we must restore the fundamental freedoms that have been lost because of our recklessness. We must focus surveillance on terrorist activity and provide meaningful court review to protect the rights of Americans who will be spied on in our country. We must not trust this or any other administration to police itself. We must act now to restore much-needed checks and balances into this damaged law. We must restore respect for our Constitution that this Administraiton clearly does not care about.”

Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers questions McConnell on how many Americans have had their calls listened in on:

Chairman Conyers: “Let me put it like this: how many have been overheard? I mean you’ve got minimization techniques, you wouldn’t have it if somebody wasn’t being overheard?”

McConnell: “Sir I don’t have the exact number, I’ll be happy to try and get the number provided to you.”

Conyers: “That is very, very critical.”