U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement on Saturday regarding S. 1927, a bill that included changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act regarding warrantless wiretapping and other surveillance.  Smith voted against the measure which would threaten Americans’ Constitutional right to privacy.  The bill passed by a vote of 227 to 183.

“Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Admiral Mike McConnell informed Congress of a critical collection gap in our electronic surveillance capabilities allowed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  On Friday I voted for a bill to close that gap and make sure intelligence agencies have all of the tools they need to secure our country while protecting Americans’ constitutional right to privacy.

“Unfortunately, the President threatened to veto an approach that would have safeguarded our homeland and our Constitution.  Following the President’s threat, the bill did not pass.

“On Saturday, the House took up a much broader Senate-passed version that would give the President and Attorney General authority to conduct warrantless surveillance on Americans without meaningful judicial oversight.  This surveillance could be conducted as long as the surveillance ‘concerns’ people ‘reasonably believed to be outside the United States.’  The loose language in this bill sets an unacceptably low bar for protecting the privacy rights of American citizens.

“I voted against this bill. We absolutely must take action to stop terrorist attacks, but we can do so without sacrificing our most basic Constitutional rights and liberties.  Congress should correct this overreach when the bill expires in six months.”