WASHINGTON, March 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this afternoon in strong support of H.R. 3773, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which protects America while protecting Americans' civil liberties. The legislation passed by a vote of 213 to 197. Below are the Speaker's remarks:
"I thank Mr. Conyers , the chair of the Judiciary Committee, and Mr. Reyes , chair of the Intelligence Committee, for their leadership in bringing this legislation to the floor. They know, as does each and every one of us, that our primary responsibility is to protect the American people. We take an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic. And in the Preamble, it states that one of our primary responsibilities is to provide for the common defense. We take those responsibilities seriously, and I don't take seriously any statements by some in this body that any person here is abdicating that responsibility.
"All of us understand, also, the role that intelligence plays in protecting our troops -- force protection. That used to be our primary responsibility, and now of course, homeland security is part of that. None of us would send our troops into harm's way without the intelligence to perform their mission and keep them safe. Although some have been willing to send our men and women in uniform into harm's way without the equipment they need to keep them safe, we don't make any accusations against them that they are not patriotic Americans. We want to protect the American people.
"As Chairman Conyers and Chairman Reyes have already pointed out in some detail, this legislation will meet our responsibility to protect America while also protecting our precious civil liberties.
"The President has said that our legislation will not make America safe. The President is wrong and I think he knows it. He knows that our legislation contains within it the principles that were suggested by the Director of National Intelligence, Mr. McConnell , early on, as to what is needed to protect our people in terms of intelligence.
"The Administration demands that Congress grants immunity to companies for activities about which the President wants only a small number of Members of Congress and no member of the Judicial Branch deciding any of the currently filed lawsuits to know anything about.
"The bill before us acknowledges that immunity for the companies may already exist under current law and allows that determination to be decided by a judge with due protection for classified information. Not by hundreds of people who really do not have the facts.
"Why would the Administration oppose a judicial determination of whether the companies already have immunity? There are at least three explanations:
"First, the President knows that it was the Administration's incompetence in failing to follow the procedures in the statute that prevented immunity from being conveyed -- that's one possibility. They simply didn't do it right. Second, the Administration's legal argument that the surveillance requests were lawfully authorized was wrong; or third, public reports that the surveillance activities undertaken by the companies went far beyond anything about which any Member of Congress was notified, as is required by the law.
"None of these alternatives is attractive, but they clearly demonstrate why the Administration's insistence that Congress provide retroactive immunity has never been about national security or about concerns for the companies; it has always been about protecting the Administration.
"As important as the issue of immunity might be, it is chiefly important to the Administration and the telecommunications companies as they look back to events that occurred as many as six years ago. What is truly important to the security of our country and the protection of our Constitution going forward are the amendments made to FISA in Title I in this bill that is on the floor today, the so-called surveillance title of the bill.