Peter King on Homeland Security
Rep./Ind./Cons./Right-To-Life Representative (NY-3)
KING: The FBI was not asked in. The pilot and co-pilot should have been the focus from the start. That would be ordinary law enforcement, investigatory procedures. But my understanding is that Malaysia is not really cooperating at all, are very reluctant to lay what they have out on the table.
Q: The focus IS on the pilots. Basically, everyone else on the plane has been looked at. No terrorist connections.
KING: There's nothing out there indicating it's terrorists. Doesn't mean it's not, but so far nothing has been picked up. I still have questions about the two Iranians who were on the plane. But again that could be a side issue.
Q: So what is the next step now for US authorities?
KING: I wish there was more FAA, NTSB, FBI involvement. This has to focus on the pilot and the copilot.
KING: First of all, I think Edward Snowden is a defector and a traitor. And the fact is there is no agency that is more monitored and more watched than the NSA. It's monitored by the courts, by the Justice Department, by the intelligence committees in the Senate and the House. I think it's absolutely indispensable to our national security. There have been no abuses.
Q: But the American people had no idea what it was doing.
KING: I don't think everyone has to know what a spy agency is doing. By their nature, a spy agency, it's kept secret. That's the purpose of it.
Q: But is it collapsing? Is it going to exist in the future?
KING: If it doesn't, it's going to be calamitous for the country.
KING: First of all, I think the president should stop apologizing, stop being defensive. The reality is the NSA has saved thousands of lives, not just in the US but also in France and Germany and throughout Europe. And, you know, the French have carried out spying operations against the US, both the government and industry. Germany is where the Hamburg plot began which led to 9/11
Q: But we were apparently bugging [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel's phone since 2002.
KING: We've saved many lives in Germany because of the intelligence we've given them. And we're not doing this to hurt Germany, but the fact is, there can be information that's being transmitted that can be useful to us, and then ultimately useful to Germany. Quite frankly, the NSA has done so much for our country. We have to have strong spying.
KING: Well, I totally disagree with that. [There are perhaps] billions of phone calls being collected, you juxtapose that with 2,800 violations which were self-reported by the NSA, which do not violate anyone's rights. 1,900 of them being foreigners. No Americans' rights were violated with that. The others were records for more than five years by accident.
Q: You said that everything was self reported by the NSA. The documents that were leaked at the end of last week clearly show that many of these violations were not appropriately reported. So is there a problem here?
KING: No, there's not a problem. The fact is, it worked. If you have 99.99% compliance and you have self reporting errors, I am satisfied that we are told what the NSA is doing.
Rep. KING: What I mean is, I fully support the NSA program. It's been effective. It's done an outstanding job. I am very critical of the president for basically being silent for the last two months. He's allowed the Edward Snowdens and the others of the world to dominate the media and that now we have so many people who actually think the NSA is spying on people, is listening to our phone calls, is reading our e-mails. We're in war. We're in a very desperate war with al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates and the President of the United States as commander-in-chief had the obligation to be aggressively and effectively defending his program and he really didn't do it. [Snowden] spread a paranoia in the country. The President should have been out there sooner.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) became one of the early critics of the Dubai Ports deal. "This can't be treated in a pre-9/11 way," he told the media. "There was a tone deafness here that indicates they didn't show the level of concern that it warranted." Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) cast aspersions on the deal, on the Bush Administration, and on Arab [deals] in general. He noted that the 9-11 attacks were financed in part by money that had passed through banks in the United Arab Emirates [which includes Dubai].
While that may have been true, the issue here is that, in an atmosphere of intense politics, Schumer's protest struck a sensitive nerve and ultimately killed the deal. Schumer had beaten the administration at its own game of using national security as a political weapon.
Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Blackburn, R-TN]: This bill gets the Federal Government--and Federal taxpayers--out of the business of buying radio programming they do not agree with. This is a bill that is long overdue. Regardless of what you think of NPR, its programming or statements by its management, the time has come to cut the umbilical cord from the taxpayer support that has become as predictable as an entitlement program. Much has changed in the media landscape since the wiretaps, to seek certain business records, and to gather intelligence on lone terrorists who are not affiliated with a known terrorist group. The Patriot Act works. It has proved effective in preventing terrorist attacks and protecting Americans. To let these provisions expire would leave every American less safe.
Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Conyers, D-MI]: Section 215 of the Patriot Act allows a secret FISA court to authorize our government to collect business records or anything else, requiring that a person or business produce virtually any type record. We didn't think that that was right then. We don't think it's right now. This provision is contrary to traditional notions of search and seizure which require the government to show reasonable suspicion or probable cause before undertaking an investigation that infringes upon a person's privacy. And so I urge a "no" vote on the extension of these expiring provisions.
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. CONYERS: Earlier this year, in the Protect America Act, PAA, amendments were made to FISA, giving the Government enhanced flexibility to collect foreign intelligence information. But the broad scope of the authority without up-front court approval raised grave concerns about the need for more safeguards of innocent Americans' communications. The RESTORE Act improves upon the PAA by providing a series of checks and balances while still allowing maximum flexibility. The RESTORE Act does not require individual warrants when persons are abroad, but it is firm that a FISA warrant is required to obtain communications of people in the US.
OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Rep. KING of N.Y.: Electronic surveillance is one of the strongest weapons in our arsenal. The real enemy is al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism, not our own government working so hard to protect us. The PAA updated FISA and struck the appropriate balance between protecting our citizens from terrorist attacks and protecting our civil liberties. Today's bill, the RESTORE Act, marks an undeniable retreat in the war against Islamic terrorism. It limits the type of foreign intelligence information that may be acquired and actually gives foreign targets more protections than Americans get in criminal cases here at home.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Bill passed, 213-197.
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. REYES: This legislation goes a long way towards strengthening oversight of the intelligence community, which the President seems to consistently want to fight. That's why the President vetoed it. He wants the authority to do whatever he wants, in secret, with no oversight or authorization or without any checks and balances. Well, I don't agree. The Constitution gives us a role in this process. We do have a say in what the intelligence community does. That's why we need to override this veto.
OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Rep. HOEKSTRA: This bill fails to give the intelligence community the tools that it needs to protect the American people from radical jihadists. The debate on this authorization bill is not about a single issue, [waterboarding], as some would have you believe. It is about the need to ensure that we give the right tools to our intelligence professionals in this time of enhanced threat.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Veto override failed, 225-188 (2/3rds required)
A modified version, S.2011, failed in the Senate; it called for amending FISA to provide that a court order is not required for the electronic surveillance of communication between foreign persons who are not located within the US for collecting foreign intelligence information, without respect to whether the communication passes through the US or the surveillance device is located within the US.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. LEVIN: Both bills cure the problem that exists: Our intelligence agencies must obtain a court order to monitor the communications of foreigners suspected of terrorist activities who are physically located in foreign countries. Now, what are the major differences? Our bill (S2011) is limited to foreign targets limited overseas, unlike the Bond bill (S1927), which does not have that key limitation and which very clearly applies to US citizens overseas. Our bill does not. Now, if there is an incidental access to US citizens, we obviously will permit that. But the Bond bill goes beyond that, citing "any person." It does not say a "foreign person." We avoid getting to the communications of Americans. There you have to go for a warrant.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. LIEBERMAN: I will vote for the Bond proposal (S1927) because we are at war, & there is increased terrorist activity. We have a crisis. This proposal will allow us to gather intelligence information on that enemy we otherwise would not gather. This is not the time for striving for legislative perfection. Let us not strive for perfection. Let us put national security first. We are going to have 6 months to reason together to find something better.
Proponents support voting YES because:
In Iraq, we were told we needed Halliburton to get a contract without any competition because they were the only ones who know how to put out oil well fires. So they got a contract on a cost-plus basis even though they had a history of overcharging the taxpayers. And then later we found out that they didn't do anything about putting out oil well fires in the first Gulf war; it was Bechtel, not Halliburton. Contractors were given special treatment by not having healthy competition.
In dealing with Hurricane Katrina, and we have seen the same mistakes again: No-competition contracts; cost-plus contracts. We have seen what the result has been: Wasted taxpayer dollars. This bill requires that if there is an emergency to give a contract, give it. But then have bidding within a year.
Opponents support voting NO because:
We support transparency and accountability in decision-making, but this bill asks for audit reports that are only advisory. To provide those to Congress not only gives you too much information, a lot of it can be misleading and can increase the number of contract disputes.
When you are fighting a war, you need to move quickly. You don't give a 6-month appeal to the folks that lose the competition. You don't give small business set-asides because there is one thing you don't have, you don't have time.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Intelligence is the first line of defense in the war on terrorism. That means we have to have intelligence agencies and capabilities that are agile, that are responsive to changes in technology, and that also protect the civil liberties of Americans. Let me make an analogy. With modernization, we replaced Route 66 with Interstate 40. We no longer have the stoplights and the intersections. We created on ramps and off ramps and concrete barriers to protect the citizens where traffic was moving very quickly. That is like what we are trying to do here--FISA needs modernization.
Opponents support voting NO because:
We are legislating in the dark. We do not even know what the President is doing now because he will not tell us. The New York Times exposed that the administration had authorized secret surveillance of domestic conversations. When exposed, the President claimed he was operating under inherent powers, but court decisions have found that the President cannot simply declare administration actions constitutional and lawful, whether or not they are.
Yet rather than finding out what is going on, this legislation retroactively legalizes whatever has been going on. The President already has broad latitude to conduct domestic surveillance, including surveillance of American citizens, so long as it is overseen by the FISA court.
This bill does not enhance security, but it does allow surveillance without the traditional checks and balances that have served our Nation well.
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The ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Supply Our Soldiers Act H.R.704 1/27/2009 http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:h.r.00704:
The House Committee on Homeland Security conducts oversight and handles legislation related to the security of the United States. The committee may amend, approve, or table (kill) homeland security related bills. It also has the power to hold hearings, conduct investigations, and subpoena witnesses. Additionally, the committee has authorization and policy oversight responsibilities over the Department of Homeland Security.
The committee organized itself into six subcommittees, with each focusing on different aspects of security:
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is charged with the oversight of the United States Intelligence Community. It shares some jurisdiction with other committees in the House, including the Armed Services Committee for some matters dealing with the Department of Defense and the various branches of the U.S. military. The committee oversees all or part of the following executive branch departments and agencies:
[As part of the Contract with America, within 100 days we pledge to bring to the House Floor the following bill]:
The National Security Restoration Act:
No US troops under UN command, and restoration of the essential parts of our national security funding to strengthen our national defense and maintain our credibility around the world.
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