FISA Inaction Faces Real Consequences (Sen. Mitch McConnell)

At midnight on Feb. 16, the nation’s terrorist surveillance law expired because House Democratic Leadership refused to bring up bipartisan national security legislation. At that moment, intelligence officials who spend their days listening in on phone calls between terrorists overseas were legally barred from following new leads without first following outdated and cumbersome warrant procedures — even if neither caller is calling from within the U.S.

House Democrats refused to pass the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, ignoring a majority in Congress as well as the views of the Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Mike McConnell, whom Democrats and Republicans tapped three years ago to “connect the dots.

Faced with an urgent warning by Adm. McConnell, House Democrats closed up shop and went home. That decision, according to top intelligence officials, left the U.S. more vulnerable to attack.

The consequences of inaction are real: Last Saturday, Adm. McConnell, warned Congress that we have already lost intelligence information and that our ability to gather information concerning the intentions and planning of terrorists and other foreign intelligence targets will continue to degrade because we have lost tools provided by the Protect America Act that enable us to adjust to changing circumstances.

Americans have been spared another terrorist attack at home thanks in large part to programs like electronic surveillance. As the House reconvenes this week, it’s time for the Democrats’ leadership to allow a vote on this vital national security measure.

Editor’s Note: Watch video Hill pundits Peter Fenn & Frank Donatelli on FISA at The Hill’s Pundits Blog.

Tags Espionage Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Government John Michael McConnell Mass surveillance Mitch McConnell Mitch McConnell National security National Security Agency NSA electronic surveillance program Person Career Politics Privacy of telecommunications Quotation Security Signals intelligence

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