Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the only Republican to serve on both the Judiciary and Intelligence committees, was superb on the Senate floor Monday. Hatch refuted the claims and outlandish rhetoric of those who would use legislation revising the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to villify private-sector companies responding to requests to assist in monitoring of foreign terrorist activities.
In these remarks, Hatch explained the need for modernized law to deal with surveillance of foreign terrorists. Opponents of the Senate Intelligence Committee version of S. 2248 rarely mention these considerations:
On numerous occasions in the FISA debate, we have seen dramatic fear mongering. Many individuals, particularly on partisan blogs, are spreading misleading and malicious information in order to incite fear of alleged government activities.
This bill should not include text which panders to people who believe in imaginary government conspiracies.
There IS such a thing as irrational fear of government. Let’s not forget:
• Our government did not kill thousands of innocent Americans on September 11th.
• Our government did not kill hundreds of people in car bombings at US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
• Our government did not kill 191 people in the Madrid Train Bombings.
• Our government did not kill 52 people in the London Train Bombings.
• Our government did not kill 202 people in suicide bombings in Bali, Indonesia.
And in these remarks, he demolished the allegations behind the lawsuits that target the telecom companies that assisted in the monitoring after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Close inspection of the lawsuits against the telecoms reveals dubious claims. The plaintiffs have confused speculation for established facts. This is dangerous and the continuation of these lawsuits could lead to serious consequences for our national security.
It’s very simple – Congress should not condone oversight through litigation.
A quick scan of what plaintiffs seek in many of these cases should send a chill down our spine. They are not, as many are suggesting, simply saying: “You went along with the President’s Terrorist Surveillance Program, now give us money.” Rather, the lawsuits seize on the President’s brief comments about the existence of a limited program to go on a fishing expedition of NSA activities. But this is really worse than a fishing expedition; this is draining the Loch Ness to find a monster. Sometimes what you are looking for just doesn’t exist.
The lawsuits represent irrational fears of government conspiracy, and seek to expose classified information, regardless of who is harmed in the process.
Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) have been forceful on this issue, but Sen. Hatch’s remarks are the single most cogent and persuasive arguments we’ve seen.
We trust all the Senators will read them before the Senate takes up the legislation again in January. Sen. Dodd?
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