(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 []

                            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 
  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