December 9, 2003 - Issue: Vol. 149, No. 176 — Daily Edition108th Congress (2003 - 2004) - 1st Session
CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 2417, INTELLIGENCE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2004
(Extensions of Remarks - December 09, 2003)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Page E2491] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 2417, INTELLIGENCE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2004 ______ speech of HON. DENNIS MOORE of kansas in the house of representatives Thursday, November 20, 2003 Mr. MOORE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to one provision of the conference report before us today, which causes me to vote against the entire measure. This legislation authorizes classified amounts in fiscal year 2004 for 14 U.S. intelligence agencies and intelligence-related activities of the U.S. government--including the CIA and the National Security Agency, as well as foreign intelligence activities of the Defense Department, the FBI, the State Department, the Homeland Security Department, and other agencies. H.R. 2417 covers CIA and general intelligence operations, including signals intelligence, clandestine human-intelligence programs and analysis, and covert action capabilities. It also authorizes covert action programs, research and development, and projects to improve information dissemination. All of these are important and vital programs, which I support. I am voting against this measure today, however, to draw attention to a provision which I believe should have been the subject of more rigorous congressional analysis than merely an up-or-down vote as part of a larger conference agreement. This measure expands the definition of ``financial institution'' to provide enhanced authority for intelligence community collection activities designed to prevent, deter and disrupt terrorism and espionage directed against the United States and to enhance foreign intelligence efforts. Banks, credit unions and other financial institutions currently are required to provide certain financial data to investigators generally without a court order or grand jury subpoena. The conference agreement expands the list to include car dealers, pawnbrokers, travel agents, casinos and other businesses. This provision allows the U.S. government to have, through use of ``National Security Letters,'' greater access to a larger universe of information that goes beyond traditional financial records, but is nonetheless crucial in tracking terrorist finances or espionage activities. Current law permits the FBI to use National Security Letters to obtain financial records from defined financial institutions for foreign intelligence investigations. While not subject to court approval, the letters nonetheless have to be approved by a senior government official. The PATRIOT Act earlier had altered the standard for financial records that could be subject to National Security Letters to include the records of someone ``sought for'' an investigation, not merely of the ``target'' of an investigation. While this new provision of law included in the conference report does not amend the PATRIOT Act, I agree with the six Senators who recently wrote to the Senate Intelligence Committee and asked them not to move ahead with such a significant expansion of the FBI's investigatory powers without further review. As they stated, public hearings, public debate and legislative protocol are essential in legislation involving the privacy rights of Americans. As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, I am concerned that these new provisions of law could be used to seize personal financial records that traditionally have been protected by financial privacy laws. The rush to judgment following the attacks of September 11, 2001, led to the rapid enactment of the PATRIOT Act, a measure which has caused substantial concerns among many Americans who value our constitutionally-protected liberties. Now that we are able to legislate in this area with a lessened sense of urgency, I urge my colleagues to step back and return this provision of H.R. 2417 to committee, where it can undergo the rigors of the normal legislative process so that Congress, and all Americans, can pass an informed judgment upon its merit. ____________________