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Charles Melancon on Homeland Security

Democrat


Voted YES on requiring FISA warrants for wiretaps in US, but not abroad.

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: Responsible Electronic Surveillance That is Overseen, Reviewed, and Effective Act of 2007 or RESTORE Act: Amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) to provide that a court order is not required for electronic surveillance directed at the acquisition of communication between non-US citizens outside the US, whether or not the communication passes through the US or the surveillance device is located within the US; and provides procedures when one party is located inside the US or is a US citizen.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. CONYERS: Earlier this year, in the Protect America Act, PAA, amendments were made to FISA, giving the Government enhanced flexibility to collect foreign intelligence information. But the broad scope of the authority without up-front court approval raised grave concerns about the need for more safeguards of innocent Americans' communications. The RESTORE Act improves upon the PAA by providing a series of checks and balances while still allowing maximum flexibility. The RESTORE Act does not require individual warrants when persons are abroad, but it is firm that a FISA warrant is required to obtain communications of people in the US.

OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Rep. KING of N.Y.: Electronic surveillance is one of the strongest weapons in our arsenal. The real enemy is al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism, not our own government working so hard to protect us. The PAA updated FISA and struck the appropriate balance between protecting our citizens from terrorist attacks and protecting our civil liberties. Today's bill, the RESTORE Act, marks an undeniable retreat in the war against Islamic terrorism. It limits the type of foreign intelligence information that may be acquired and actually gives foreign targets more protections than Americans get in criminal cases here at home.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Bill passed, 213-197.

Reference: RESTORE Act; Bill H.R.3773 ; vote number 08-HR3773 on Mar 14, 2008

Voted YES on Veto override: Congressional oversight of CIA interrogations.

PRESIDENT'S VETO MESSAGE:This bill would impede efforts to protect [against] terrorist attacks because it imposes several unnecessary and unacceptable burdens on our Intelligence Community. [I reject] subjecting two additional vital positions to a more protracted process of Senate confirmation [and I reject] a new office of Inspector General for the Intelligence Community as duplicative. [Most sigficantly,] it is vitally important that the CIA be allowed to maintain a separate and classified interrogation program, [and not] use only the interrogation methods authorized in the Army Field Manual on Interrogations. My disagreement over section 327 is not over any particular interrogation technique such as waterboarding. Rather, my concern is the need to maintain a separate CIA program that will shield from disclosure to terrorists the interrogation techniques they may face upon capture.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. REYES: This legislation goes a long way towards strengthening oversight of the intelligence community, which the President seems to consistently want to fight. That's why the President vetoed it. He wants the authority to do whatever he wants, in secret, with no oversight or authorization or without any checks and balances. Well, I don't agree. The Constitution gives us a role in this process. We do have a say in what the intelligence community does. That's why we need to override this veto.

OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Rep. HOEKSTRA: This bill fails to give the intelligence community the tools that it needs to protect the American people from radical jihadists. The debate on this authorization bill is not about a single issue, [waterboarding], as some would have you believe. It is about the need to ensure that we give the right tools to our intelligence professionals in this time of enhanced threat.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Veto override failed, 225-188 (2/3rds required)

Bill Veto override on H.R. 2082 ; vote number 08-HR2082 on Mar 11, 2008

Voted YES on removing need for FISA warrant for wiretapping abroad.

Vote on passage of S.1927, the Protect America Act: Amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to state that the restrictions on "electronic surveillance" should not encompass surveillance directed at any person reasonably believed to be located outside the US.

A modified version, S.2011, failed in the Senate; it called for amending FISA to provide that a court order is not required for the electronic surveillance of communication between foreign persons who are not located within the US for collecting foreign intelligence information, without respect to whether the communication passes through the US or the surveillance device is located within the US.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Sen. LEVIN: Both bills cure the problem that exists: Our intelligence agencies must obtain a court order to monitor the communications of foreigners suspected of terrorist activities who are physically located in foreign countries. Now, what are the major differences? Our bill (S2011) is limited to foreign targets limited overseas, unlike the Bond bill (S1927), which does not have that key limitation and which very clearly applies to US citizens overseas. Our bill does not. Now, if there is an incidental access to US citizens, we obviously will permit that. But the Bond bill goes beyond that, citing "any person." It does not say a "foreign person." We avoid getting to the communications of Americans. There you have to go for a warrant.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. LIEBERMAN: I will vote for the Bond proposal (S1927) because we are at war, & there is increased terrorist activity. We have a crisis. This proposal will allow us to gather intelligence information on that enemy we otherwise would not gather. This is not the time for striving for legislative perfection. Let us not strive for perfection. Let us put national security first. We are going to have 6 months to reason together to find something better.

Reference: Protect America Act; Bill S.1927 ; vote number 2007-0836 on Aug 4, 2007

2010 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Homeland Security: Charles Melancon on other issues:
LA Gubernatorial:
Bobby Jindal
LA Senatorial:
David Vitter
Mary Landrieu

Dem. Freshmen
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Page last updated: Mar 08, 2011