Attorney General Mukasey on FISA

By February 7, 2008Communications

Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey testified to the House Committee on the Judiciary today on the Department of Justice’s activities and reiterated the Administration’s call for passage of S. 2248, to extend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s authority. From Mukasey’s prepared remarks:

It is also critical that Congress provide liability protection to electronic communication service providers in enacting a reauthorization bill. Contrary to the assertions of some, the legal protections contained in S. 2248 bill do not confer blanket immunity. Rather, protections apply in limited and appropriate circumstances, as reviewed by a court. We believe this approach represents the best way to provide retroactive immunity against these claims and urge Congress to pass legislation containing these protections.

While we appreciate the work of the House of Representatives in holding hearings and considering the challenges posed by the outdated provisions of FISA, the bill passed by the House, H.R. 3773, falls far short of providing the Intelligence Community with the tools it needs to collect foreign intelligence effectively from individuals located outside the United States. We cannot support this bill, which does not provide liability protection, would sunset in less than two years, requires prior court approval of acquisitions targeting persons outside the United States except in emergencies, and limits the type of foreign intelligence information
that may be collected.

Chairman Conyers’ opening statement does not mention FISA.

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