Blog Posts

Pelosi: 'The President is Misrepresenting the Facts on Our Nation's Electronic Surveillance Capabilities'

February 15, 2008

Washington, D.C. — Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today after President Bush spoke at the White House this morning on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act:

“The President is misrepresenting the facts on our nation's electronic surveillance capabilities. Last August, he insisted that Congress pass the Protect America Act; but this week, he refused to support an extension, which can only mean he knows our intelligence agencies will be able to do all the wiretapping they need to do to protect the nation. That surveillance can be undertaken under broad orders authorized under the PAA or under orders that can be obtained through the FISA court.

“The President knows the facts; if he did not want the PAA to expire this weekend, he should have supported an extension of it, as the overwhelming majority of House Democrats did on Wednesday. Having guaranteed the lapse of the August law, the President should now work in a cooperative way with Congress to pass a strong FISA modernization bill that protects our nation's security and the Constitution.”

The Facts:

1. In the remote chance that a previously unknown terrorist group must be surveilled, we can use FISA. Under FISA, the Attorney General can approve surveillance in minutes. Surveillance can begin immediately and approval of the FISA Court can be obtained within three days.

“It can happen extremely quickly. We have done it in a very short time, minutes sometimes.”
– James Baker, former Counsel to the Justice Department's Office of Intelligence Policy and Review under President George W. Bush, 9/18/07, referring to how fast DOJ can approve an emergency FISA application

2. Unlike last summer, there is no backlog of cases to slow down getting surveillance approvals from the FISA court.

“We're caught up to all of it now.”
– Mike McConnell, Director of National Intelligence, 2/7/08