Comment of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on the Judiciary Committee's Action on Legislation to Amend the Foreign Intelligence Surve

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Senate Judiciary Committee has passed a better, stronger and more balanced bill to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, including reducing the sunset provision from six to four years, to make it easier to make further improvements in the years to come. I am proud of the contribution the Judiciary Committee has made to the process of setting down clear laws to govern the wiretapping of Americans.

These improvements protect our security without sacrificing the people's rights against government abuse of these powerful surveillance tools. We have found practical, workable answers that keep faith with American values. We have struck a better balance that does credit to the reasons we have FISA in the first place.

When we give the government sweeping surveillance powers, there need to be clear rules and checks and balances to prevent abuses against the American people.

The full Senate will yet need to resolve the immunity issue. I supported the Feingold amendment, which did not prevail in the committee. While I appreciate the problems facing the telecommunications companies, the retroactive immunity issue to me is not about fixing blame on the companies but about holding government accountable. Passing a law to whitewash the Administration's undermining of another law would be a disservice to the American people and to the rule of law.

SOURCE Office of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy