SOTU: Temporary FISA Extension Will Not Put Any Americans In Danger

Bush said: “One of the most important tools we can give them is the ability to monitor terrorist communications. To protect America, we need to know who the terrorists are talking to, what they are saying, and what they are planning. Last year, the Congress passed legislation to help us do that. Unfortunately, the Congress set the legislation to expire on February 1. This means that if you do not act by Friday, our ability to track terrorist threats would be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger. The Congress must ensure the flow of vital intelligence is not disrupted.”

FACT — TEMPORARY EXTENSION WOULD ALLOW NEW WIRETAPS TO BE IMPLEMENTED: A temporary extension would prevent the Protect America Act revisions from expiring on February 1, meaning new authorizations for surveillance would continue be governed by the Protect America Act revisions. If the extension is not passed, the Act’s “transition procedures” would cause all new authorizations to be governed by the FISA statute as it existed prior to the Protect America Act revisions. [Protect America Act]

FACT — GOVERNMENT WILL STILL BE ABLE TO WIRETAP TERRORISTS IF PROTECT AMERICA ACT EXPIRES: “Kenneth L. Wainstein, assistant attorney general for national security, said in an interview that if the August bill was allowed to expire in 10 days, intelligence officials would still be able to continue eavesdropping on already approved targets for another year under the law.” [NY Times 01/23/08]