Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)
Today, Senators Mike DeWine (R-OH), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced the Terrorist Surveillance Act of 2006, a measure that would provide a statutory framework, with congressional and judicial oversight for the President to conduct electronic surveillance on the international communications of suspected terrorists, while protecting the rights and liberties of American citizens.
“As the President has said, when terrorists call the United States, we want to know who they’re talking to. This bill gives the President the limited authority to do just that,” said Senator DeWine, a member of both the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Judiciary Committee. “It does not, however, give the President a blank check. The Terrorist Surveillance Act authorizes a limited, but necessary, program. It requires the President to go to court as soon as possible. And, it establishes an unprecedented Subcommittee with the power to oversee this program and protect the rights and liberties of American citizens.”
“My goal is to ensure the spying program, which has been effective and vital to our national security, is able to continue by ensuring we have the appropriate checks and balances in place,” said Senator Graham. “I believe our legislation strikes that balance and will allow us to continue monitoring the enemy while protecting the rights of American citizens.”
“As communications technology and the terrorist threat evolve, we must ensure the security of the nation by updating our laws. This legislation creates a 21st century law to address 21st century threats," said Senator Hagel, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. "We cannot lose our focus on national security. But we must not forget the critical roll that the legislative and judicial branches play in the governance of this nation. This bill ensures substantive Congressional oversight and reinforces the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.”
“Today, I join with my colleagues – Senators DeWine, Graham and Hagel – in introducing legislation to bring the NSA’s surveillance program out of the shadows by reasserting the necessary constitutional checks and balances that both the legislative and judicial branches government have over the Executive. Information is the bedrock of this legislation. The more we learn about the NSA program, the better we are able to adopt measures necessary to protect our treasured constitutional rights without sacrificing our safety as a nation. This legislation is the first of many steps, but one that is critical to safeguarding our security and freedom,” said Senator Snowe.
Under the Terrorist Surveillance Act, the President is given the limited authority to conduct surveillance of the international communications of terrorists for 45 days. To engage in such surveillance, the President must have probable cause to believe that the target of surveillance is a member of or affiliated with a terrorist organization. And, he must believe that the surveillance is necessary to protect the United States from a terrorist attack. Under the bill, the President is permitted to reauthorize the Terrorist Surveillance Program every 45 days.
To ensure that the President does not overstep his limited authority, the Terrorist Surveillance Act adds important safeguards to current law to protect the rights and liberties of ordinary Americans.
- The bill mandates that the President obtain a warrant for surveillance on a suspected terrorist once he has sufficient evidence to do so.
- For those unusual cases where the President does not have sufficient evidence to obtain a court order, but still wishes to conduct surveillance on a suspect, the bill requires that the Attorney General certify, under oath, that continued surveillance is necessary to protect the United States.
- Finally, the bill establishes a Terrorist Surveillance Subcommittee within the Senate Intelligence Committee with the exclusive jurisdiction to oversee and monitor the details of the Terrorist Surveillance Program. That Subcommittee is empowered to obtain any and all information about the surveillance of any individual in order to ensure that the President is not abusing the rights of law-abiding Americans.
Terrorist Surveillance Act of 2006
DeWine, Graham, Hagel, Snowe
The Terrorist Surveillance Act provides limited statutory authority to the President to conduct electronic surveillance of suspected terrorists in the United States, greatly enhances Congressional oversight of the Terrorist Surveillance Program, and requires that electronic surveillance be conducted under FISA when the President has sufficient evidence to do so.
Authorizes the President to conduct an electronic surveillance program, without court order, for up to 45 days, provided that --
Requires Program Review and Reauthorization Every 45 Days
- The President determines that the surveillance is necessary to protect the United States, its citizens, or its interests;
- Protections are in place to ensure that the program is reasonably designed to acquire only international communications;
- There is probable cause to believe that at least one party to a communication is a member of, affiliated with, or working in support of a terrorist organization. The President must submit a list of designated terrorist organizations at least annually; and
- Minimization procedures are in place to limit the acquisition, retention and use of non-public information about U.S. persons.
Requires Review of Surveillance of Individual Targets Every 45 Days
- Every 45 days, the Attorney General must review the program and certify in writing and under oath whether the program meets the requirements set forth by Congress;
- The President may then reauthorize the program for another 45 day period, but only if he determines that the program remains necessary to protect the United States, its citizens, or its interests.
- The Attorney General must provide notice of the decision to continue or terminate the program to the congressional intelligence committees within 72 hours.
- Every 45 days, the Attorney General must also review the surveillance of any individual targets under the program.
- If, at any time, the Attorney General determines that he has sufficient evidence to obtain a FISA warrant, he must seek a FISA warrant to continue surveillance on that target.
- If the Attorney General determines that he does not have sufficient evidence to obtain a FISA warrant, but nonetheless wants to continue surveillance, then he must certify in writing and under oath to the Terrorist Surveillance Subcommittees the following four things:
1) that all previous surveillance complied with this Act;
2) that there is insufficient evidence to obtain a warrant under FISA;
3) that the President has determined that continued surveillance of the target without a court order is necessary to protect the United States, its citizens, or its interests; and
4) that continued surveillance is being undertaken in a good faith belief that it will result in the acquisition of foreign intelligence information.
No target may be subject to surveillance beyond the 45-day reauthorization period unless the Attorney General obtains a FISA warrant or files a certification, in writing and under oath, with the Terrorist Surveillance Subcommittees.
Regular, Ongoing, and Vigorous Oversight of Terrorist Surveillance Program
- The Act calls for the creation of Terrorist Surveillance Subcommittees within both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
- To ensure confidentiality of the Terrorist Surveillance Program, these Subcommittees, along with bipartisan congressional leadership, will have sole oversight responsibilities of this program.
- The President must submit information on the management and operational details of the Terrorist Surveillance Program generally and any specific surveillance conducted by this program whenever requested by the Subcommittees.
- Every 6 months, the President must also submit a report to the Subcommittees, which, among other things, will include:
1) A complete discussion of the management, operational details, effectiveness, and necessity of the program and all electronic surveillance conduced under the program during the 6 month period;
2) Total number of United States persons targeted for electronic surveillance;
3) For any targets subject to surveillance for longer than 45 days, an explanation why the target was subject to continued surveillance without a FISA warrant; and
4) A description of the nature of the information sought under the program, the types of communications subject to the program and whether the information could have been reasonably obtained by less intrusive investigative techniques.
Enhanced penalties for disclosure of classified information related to the Terrorist Surveillance Program
- Maximum fine of $1 million and/or 15 years in prison. This provision does not apply to journalists.