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Blunt Calls on Congress to Pass Legislation Reauthorizing Critical National Security Tools

May 13, 2020

WASHINGTON – At the Senate Republican leadership press conference yesterday, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, called on Congress to pass legislation to reauthorize three provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that have been critical in U.S. counterterrorism and counterespionage efforts. As Blunt noted, these three provisions have been expired since House Democrats let them lapse in March, leaving the intelligence community without important tools they have relied on to keep Americans safe.

Following are Blunt’s Remarks:

“Well since March the 15th, we have lost three really important provisions that we’ve used for over a decade now to fight terrorism and espionage. The provisions that aren’t at stake are provisions that really created some problems for Carter Page and others, the FBI’s inappropriate use of the FISA warrant, generally will not be impacted in any way by any vote we take this week. That’s on a different time schedule, it clearly needs to be dealt with. Actually, I’d hoped when we offered the House the extension of current FISA laws for 90 days, so that we could include that discussion of what the FBI had done wrong with Carter Page, what they may have done wrong with Michael Flynn.

“But the three provisions that we would like to extend this week, were provisions like the ‘Lone Wolf,’ which Zacarias Moussaoui, we were able to prosecute him through that provision in 2011. The ‘Roving Wiretap,’ where people take burner phones, you’ve got the ability to listen to what they are saying, but you don’t have the ability to know what phone they might be using. Or, maybe most importantly, the business records provision, which was used dozens of times last year in espionage cases and in terrorism cases is not available to us right now. It’s available in all business activity cases, it’s available in all IRS cases, it’s just not available if you’re going after a terrorist.

“That’s a big mistake. We have not had access to those kinds of records, again, for almost two months now. I think this week we’ll have a vote that will give us a chance to extend those provisions, while Senator Graham and his committee, and appropriate committees look at the overall FISA use and how it can be guaranteed to be even more protective of the American people and individuals that would be the subject of those FISA warrants. But right now we don’t have tools that we’ve used effectively and repeatedly since 9/11.”

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