Press Releases

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement regarding Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ announcement that the Pentagon will re-open bidding for the acquisition of 179 new Air Force refueling tankers:
 
“The Pentagon made the right decision – and the only reasonable one – to correct the Air Force’s mistakes and re-compete the tanker contract.  The GAO’s investigation made clear that the original acquisition process was unfair and disadvantaged Boeing’s bid in several respects.  I hope this will mean that Boeing and our Washington State workers will get a fair shot at the new contract, but I’ll be watching this new process carefully to make sure that’s the case.”
U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) applauded the House Appropriations Committee’s approval last week of funding for two critical energy research projects at universities in Washington State.  The committee approved $500,000 which Smith requested to expand research capabilities at the Center for Biofuels at the University of Washington to facilitate development of new biomass conversion technologies.  The committee also approved $500,000 for research on power grid instability and insecurity and the development of modern “smart grid” technology at Washington State University.
 
“The Center for Biofuels is already completing research that will help Washington  This additional funding will allow them to purchase equipment and expand vital research on converting biomass into fuels,” Smith said. state become a leader in alternative energy.
 
 “Also of critical importance is ensuring that our regional and national power grids are stable and secure.  This funding will help WSU researchers develop smart-grid technology to better protect consumers’ access to the electricity we all rely on,” Smith said.
 
Smith also helped secure funding for the following regional projects:
 
 • $250,000 for the Lower Puyallup River Alternatives Study, which would determine alternatives for addressing flood and related habitat issues of the Lower Puyallup River in Pierce County, Wash.; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
 
• $300,000 for the Puget Sound and Adjacent Waters Restoration to identify and fund important restoration opportunities in the Puget Sound Basin, which can benefit various federally listed species; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
 
• $600,000 million for the Puget Sound Nearshore Marine Habitat Restoration program. This funding will be used to evaluate causes for habitat decline and pollution in the Puget Sound Basin; formulate, evaluate and screen potential solutions to these problems; and recommend a series of actions and projects; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
 
• $1 million for the Duwamish / Green Ecosystem Restoration Project, which provides critical environmental improvements and includes assisting in the recovery of Endangered Species Act federally-listed Chinook salmon; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (King County).
 
• $4.107 million for the Mud Mountain Dam on the White River.  Funding would be used for both construction and operations and maintenance on the Dam, to enable the Corps of Engineers to meet existing and future fish passage responsibilities; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
 
The funds were included in the appropriations bill for energy and water projects for fiscal year 2009, approved by the House Appropriations Committee last week.  The bill now awaits consideration by the full House and reconciliation with the Senate before it can be signed into law by the President.
 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) applauded the House Appropriations Committee’s approval last week of the Fiscal Year 2009 Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, which included funding for several critical law enforcement and justice assistance projects in the 9th District. 

The committee approved $300,000 for the Digital Information Gathering System (DIGS), requested by the King County Sherriff’s Office.  The DIGS project will facilitate integration of records and information between all 49 municipal police departments, sheriffs offices, and other law enforcement agencies and will promote enhanced information sharing, data accessibility, and communications.

Also approved by the committee was $250,000 for the Rainier Communications Commission’s Wireless Public Safety and Emergency Response Network.  This network will improve interoperable communications for public safety and emergency management purposes and directly aid local law enforcement and first responders in Pierce County.

“Funding for the King County DIGS project and the Rainier Public Safety Network will help provide our local law enforcement officials with needed technology support to better respond to public safety threats and emergencies,” Smith said.

Smith also helped secure funding for important justice assistance programs that reduce and prevent crime as well as provide support and assistance to victims.

The Appropriations Committee designated $500,000 for the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center to fund their heavily-utilized civil legal services and the child-focused Stepping Stones program, both of which serve adult and child victims of violence.  The committee approved $1,100,000 for the Washington State Methamphetamine Initiative to tackle the problems of manufacture, distribution, and use of methamphetamine.  The committee also approved $1,000,000 for the Pierce County Regional Gang Prevention Initiative, which enables enhanced community-oriented policing activities and outreach to youths and families impacted by drugs, violence, and gangs. 

“These funds will support critical local  programs that prevent drug abuse, crime, and violence and aid victims and affected communities.”

The CJS bill now awaits consideration by the full House and reconciliation with the Senate before it can be signed into law by the President.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today applauded the House Appropriations Committee’s approval of the $8.6 million he requested to build a new cyber-warfare facility for use by the Washington State Air National Guard’s 262nd Information Warfare Aggressor Squadron (IWAS) at McChord Air Force Base.

“This Washington State Air National Guard squadron is at the cutting edge of protecting U.S. national security in today’s high-tech world. I am proud to have these cyber warriors - most of whom have civilian day jobs at local tech companies - here in the Puget Sound area. They need this new facility as the squadron takes on a more prominent role in America’s cyber-security efforts,” Smith said.

The work of the 262nd IWAS involves a range of cyber-security missions, including replicating the cyber-attack capabilities of potential adversaries to the U.S.  The $8.6 million that Smith secured will fund the construction of a state-of-the-art training and operational facility for the 262nd IWAS at McChord Air Force Base. The facility will house classrooms and multiple, highly secured computer networks, and a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) for the storage of Top Secret information. The current facility is a Korean War-era building without adequate space or security protections.

The funds were included in the appropriations bill for military construction and veterans affairs, approved by the House Appropriations Committee yesterday.  The bill will be considered by the full House of Representatives next month.
 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today voted for the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, a bipartisan compromise bill that provides intelligence agencies tools to conduct surveillance while protecting Americans' privacy rights.

"We can and must fight terrorism without sacrificing our most basic freedoms as Americans.   While not perfect, this compromise is a major improvement over both the Senate-passed bill and current law.  It gives intelligence agencies needed tools to conduct surveillance on foreign targets while protecting Americans' constitutional rights through judicial oversight and ensuring the President can never again go outside the law," Smith said.

The compromise bill contains a number of critical safeguards to protect civil liberties and prevent executive overreach.  The bill:

  • Ensures the President can never again go outside the law, by clarifying that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and existing criminal statues are the exclusive means by which the government may conduct surveillance on U.S. soil.  The President justified his extralegal surveillance program by claiming the 2001 authorization to use force against terrorists provided the administration the authority to circumvent FISA.  This bill makes it clear that's not the case.
  • Clarifies that to conduct surveillance of a person in the U.S., or any U.S. citizen abroad, the government must first obtain an individual warrant from the FISA court based on probable cause.
  • Requires prior review and approval by the FISA Court of the targeting and minimization procedures used in foreign surveillance to ensure that U.S. citizens are not targeted and that any inadvertently intercepted communications are not disseminated.
  • Requires the Inspectors General of four key U.S. government agencies to conduct a review of the President's warrantless wiretapping program and provide those reviews to Congress.

The debate over surveillance laws emerged after September 11, 2001 as the need to conduct counterterrorism surveillance suggested that the 1978 FISA law needed to be modernized.  While surveillance of foreign targets had always been legal without a warrant, the question became what to do when information about Americans was inadvertently collected in the process of seeking information on targets abroad – a growing problem since an increasing amount of global electronic communication was being routed through U.S. locations.  FISA required that any time that might happen; a separate individual warrant was required in advance.  U.S. intelligence agencies complained that the 1978 law hampered their ability to conduct effective counterterrorism surveillance on foreign targets. 

With that challenge in mind, in addition to safeguarding civil liberties, this compromise bill provides critical authority and flexibility for U.S. intelligence agencies to acquire foreign intelligence information.  In an emergency, the government may authorize surveillance and apply to the FISA Court for approval within seven days.

The bill also rejects the Senate bill's provisions granting automatic retroactive immunity for telecommunications providers.  Instead the bill requires federal courts to determine companies' liability, and allows them to grant immunity only if shown substantial evidence that the U.S. government ordered companies to comply.  All parties will be allowed to participate in the legal proceedings, with caveats to protect access to highly classified information.

"This bill's approach on telecommunications company liability isn't perfect, but it's a vast improvement over the Senate bill in that it keeps the decision in the federal courts' hands.  What's most important is that government officials can still be held accountable, as the bill provides no immunity to them and requires aggressive investigations into the President's warrantless wiretap program," Smith said.