U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) today issued the following statement on H.R. 5825, a bill that would egregiously expand executive surveillance power, which passed the House of Representatives tonight:
“We face a real threat from violent Islamic extremists. To fight them effectively, we must not only hunt them aggressively at home and abroad, but also preserve our ability to motivate other countries to fight with us. At the same time, we must stand firm in the defense of our nation’s ideals.
“This bill would accomplish none of these critically important goals. Instead, the President and the Republican Leadership attempted to put Democrats on the horns of an election year dilemma: either egregiously expand the executive branch’s authority outside bounds set by the Constitution, or be accused of voting against the hunt for terrorists.
“We do not know to what extent the President’s current surveillance system breaks from current law, but all indications point to a blatant circumvention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This bill would not only codify that violation; it would vastly expand the President’s surveillance power beyond any check or balance. It would allow the President to spy on Americans without a warrant for an unlimited period of time.
“Given the President’s track record of misused and overreaching executive authority, it is hard to understand why we should now be expected to give him even more latitude to use surveillance techniques that may very well be struck down by the Supreme Court. Such an additional failure on the part of the Administration and this Republican Congress would further hamper our efforts to stop terrorism.”
“The President had the basic tools he needed within the framework of the FISA but chose to ignore them. This bill is not some common-sense move to track terrorists. It is not a needed update to FISA. It is huge expansion of executive power that should concern all Americans.”