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|Bush Cabal Hides Patriot II Police State in HR2417
Rep. Ron Paul/Rep Dennis Moore
Mr. Speaker, I rise with great concerns over the Intelligence Authorization Conference Report. I do not agree that Members of Congress should vote in favor of an authorization that most know almost nothing about--including the most basic issue of the level of funding.
What most concerns me about this conference report, though, is
something that should outrage every single American citizen. I am
referring to the stealth addition of language drastically expanding FBI powers to secretly and without court order snoop into the business and financial transactions of American citizens. These expanded internal police powers will enable the FBI to demand transaction records from businesses, including auto dealers, travel agents, pawnbrokers and more, without the approval or knowledge of a judge or grand jury.
This was written into the bill at the 11th hour over the objections of mmbers of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which would normally have jurisdiction over the FBI.
The Judiciary Committee was frozen out of the process.
It appears we are witnessing a stealth enactment of the enormously unpopular "Patriot II" legislation that was first leaked several months ago. Perhaps the national outcry when a draft of the Patriot II act was leaked has led its supporters to enact it one piece at a time in secret. Whatever the case, this is outrageous and unacceptable. I urge each of my colleagues to join me in rejecting this bill and its incredibly dangerous expansion of Federal police powers.
I also have concerns about the rest of the bill. One of the few
things we do know about this final version is that we are authorizing
even more than the president has requested for the intelligence
community. The intelligence budget seems to grow every year, but we
must ask what we are getting for our money. It is notoriously difficult to assess the successes of our intelligence apparatus, and perhaps it is unfair that we only hear about its failures and shortcomings.
However, we cannot help but be concerned over several such failures in recent years. Despite the tens of billions we spend on these myriad intelligence agencies, it is impossible to ignore the failure of our federal intelligence community to detect and prevent the September 11 attacks. Additionally, it is becoming increasingly obvious that our intelligence community failed completely to accurately assess the nature of the raqi threat. These are by any measure grave failures, costing us incalculably in human lives and treasure.
Yet from what little we can know about this bill, the solution is to fund more of the same.
I would hope that we might begin coming up with new approaches to our
intelligence needs, perhaps returning to an emphasis on the proven
value of human intelligence and expanded linguistic capabilities for
our intelligence personnel.
I am also concerned that our scarce resources are again being
squandered pursuing a failed drug war in Colombia, as this bill
continues to fund our disastrous Colombia policy. Billions of dollars
have been spent in Colombia to fight this drug war, yet more drugs than ever are being produced abroad and shipped into the United States-- ncluding a bumper crop of opium sent by our new allies in Afghanistan.
Evidence in South America suggests that any decrease in Colombian
production of drugs for the US market has only resulted in increased
production in neighboring countries. As I have stated repeatedly, the
solution to the drug problem lies not in attacking the producers abroad or in creating a militarized police state to go after the consumers at home, but rather in taking a close look at our seemingly insatiable desire for these substances. Until that issue is addressed we will continue wasting billions of dollars in a losing battle.
In conclusion, I strongly urge my colleagues to join me in rejecting
this dangerous and expensive bill.
Congressional Record: December 9, 2003 (Extensions)
CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 2417, INTELLIGENCE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR
FISCAL YEAR 2004
HON. DENNIS MOORE
in the house of representatives
Thursday, November 20, 2003
Mr. MOORE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to one provision of the conference report before us today, which causes me to vote against the entire measure.
This legislation authorizes classified amounts in fiscal year 2004
for 14 U.S. intelligence agencies and intelligence-related activities
of the U.S. government--including the CIA and the National Security
Agency, as well as foreign intelligence activities of the Defense
Department, the FBI, the State Department, the Homeland Security
Department, and other agencies. H.R. 2417 covers CIA and general
intelligence operations, including signals intelligence, clandestine
human-intelligence programs and analysis, and covert action
capabilities. It also authorizes covert action programs, research and
development, and projects to improve information dissemination. All of these are important and vital programs, which I support.
I am voting against this measure today, however, to draw attention to a provision which I believe should have been the subject of more
rigorous congressional analysis than merely an up-or-down vote as part of a larger conference agreement. This measure expands the definition of "financial institution" to provide enhanced authority for intelligence community collection activities designed to prevent, deter and disrupt terrorism and espionage directed against the United States and to enhance foreign intelligence efforts. Banks, credit unions and other financial institutions currently are required to provide certain financial data to investigators generally without a court order or grand jury subpoena. The conference agreement expands the list to include car dealers, pawnbrokers, travel agents, casinos and other businesses.
This provision allows the U.S. government to have, through use of
"National Security Letters," greater access to a larger universe of
information that goes beyond traditional financial records, but is
nonetheless crucial in tracking terrorist finances or espionage
activities. Current law permits the FBI to use National Security
Letters to obtain financial records from defined financial institutions for foreign intelligence investigations. While not subject to court approval, the letters nonetheless have to be approved by a senior government official.
The PATRIOT Act earlier had altered the standard for financial records that could be subject to National Security Letters to include the records of someone "sought for" an investigation, not merely of the "target" of an investigation.
While this new provision of law included in the conference report
does not amend the PATRIOT Act, I agree with the six Senators who
recently wrote to the Senate Intelligence Committee and asked them not to move ahead with such a significant expansion of the FBI's
investigatory powers without further review. As they stated, public
hearings, public debate and legislative protocol are essential in
legislation involving the privacy rights of Americans. As a member of
the House Financial Services Committee, I am concerned that these new
provisions of law could be used to seize personal financial records
that traditionally have been protected by financial privacy laws. The
rush to judgment following the attacks of September 11, 2001, led to
the rapid enactment of the PATRIOT Act, a measure which has caused
substantial concerns among many Americans who value our
constitutionally-protected liberties. Now that we are able to legislate in this area with a lessened sense of urgency, I urge my colleagues to step back and return this provision of H.R. 2417 to committee, where it can undergo the rigors of the normal legislative process so that Congress, and all Americans, can pass an informed judgment upon its merit.