Quotes From Political Leaders on the Battle Over Domestic Surveillance and Immunity for Telecommunications Companies

Representative Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
"We are a strong nation. We cannot allow ourselves to be scared into suspending the Constitution. If we do that, we might as well call the terrorists and tell them that they have won."

Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ)
"The intelligence community will still have all the tools it needs to continue current surveillance and begin new surveillance on any terrorist threat. The only way our intelligence collection against Al Qaeda will ‘go dark’ is if President Bush doesn’t pay the FBI’s and NSA’s phone bills."

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
"Franklin Roosevelt, as you know, something that every school child in America knows, said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. And President Bush tells the American people that he has nothing to offer but fear, and I'm afraid that his fear mongering of this bill is not constructive."

"We are committed to protecting our Nation from terrorism while protecting our precious civil liberties, protecting the people and protecting the Constitution. We will continue to work with the Senate to produce a FISA bill that does both."

Majority Leader of the House Steny Hoyer (D-MD):
AUDIO: majorityleader.house.gov/multimedia/cspan_02-14-2008_13.wmv
AUDIO: majorityleader.house.gov/multimedia/cspan_02-13-2008_15.wmv

"President Bush is making the absolutely untenable claim that our national security will be jeopardized unless Congress immediately acts on the Senate bill, even though he and House Republicans opposed and defeated a 21-day extension of the current FISA law that his Administration wrote. If the President and Republicans really believe their own rhetoric, then their actions are grossly irresponsible.

"Democrats have made it abundantly clear that we are prepared to sit down with the White House and Republicans to work together. But we will not succumb to divisiveness and fear-mongering."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)
"For the President, this debate isn't about protecting America; it's about protecting the telecommunications industry and his own Administration.

"The President refused to extend this law because he is trying to use it for political gain and is afraid that legal scrutiny of his Administration's actions will uncover wrongdoing."

Richard A. Clarke, Former Head of Counterterrorism at the National Security Council
"For this president, fear is an easier political tactic than compromise. With FISA, he is attempting to rattle Congress into hastily expanding his own executive powers at the expense of civil liberties and constitutional protections.

"In order to defeat the violent Islamist extremists who do not believe in human rights, we need not give up the civil liberties, constitutional rights and protections that generations of Americans fought to achieve. We do not need to create Big Brother. With the administration's attempts to erode FISA's legal standing as the exclusive means by which our government can conduct electronic surveillance of U.S. persons on U.S. soil, this is unfortunately the path the president is taking us down.

"So it is no surprise that in one of Bush's last acts of relevance, he once again played the fear card. While he has failed in spreading democracy, stemming global terrorism, and leaving the country better off than when he took power, he did achieve one thing: successfully perpetuating fear for political gain.

"Sadly, it may be one of the only achievements of his presidency."

For more information, visit www.aclu.org/fisa
Media contact: Liz Rose or Mandy Simon (202) 675-2312 or media@dcaclu.org

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