McConnell, Burr, Cotton, Sessions

Vehicle for Iran Nuclear Bill (H.R. 1191)

Senator McConnell: (11:34 AM)

  • Spoke on NSA.
    • "Since September the 11th, 2001, FISA has been critically important in keeping us safe here in America. According to the C.I.A., had these authorities been in place more than a decade ago, they would likely - likely - have prevented 9/11. Not only have these tools kept us safe, there has not been a single incident - not one - of intentional abuse of them. The N.S.A. is overseen by the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our government. They're not running rogue out there. The N.S.A. is overseen by the legislative, executive and judicial branches of our government. The employees of N.S.A. are highly trained, supervised and tested. The expiring provisions of FISA are ideally suited for the terrorist threat we face in 2015. They work together to protect us from foreign terrorists abroad who use social and our media to inspire and potentially plan attacks inside the United States. ISIL uses Facebook, uses Twitter, its on-line magazine, and other social media platforms to contact and eventually radicalize recruits on-line. If our intelligence community cannot connect the dots of information, we cannot stop this determined enemy from launching attacks … At best, the new system envisioned by the U.S.A. Freedom Act would be more cumbersome and time-consuming to use when speed and agility are absolutely crucial. At worst, it will not work at all because there is no requirement in the legislation that the telecoms hold the data for any length of time. Put differently, section 215 helps us find the needle in a haystack. But under the U.S.A. Freedom Act, there may not be a haystack to look through at all."


Senator Burr: (11:43 AM)

  • Spoke on NSA.
    • "What we haven't shared with the American people is what do you get through this program? You get the safety and security of knowing that we're doing everything we possibly can to identify a terrorist in the act and to stop it before it happens. We're here today with a choice. The choice is whether we're going to reauthorize this program that has been very, very effective, with the same conditions that the president has in place, got to go to a judge, and with important controls on privacy by professionals with rules. Or whether we're going to roll it back to the telecoms. Make no mistake about it, the compromise legislation rolls us back to the same thing we were doing pre-9/11. So whether you let it expire or whether you reauthorize it, those are the two choices because this compromise bill actually forces it back to telecoms. A very cumbersome, time consuming, and I would say fraught with privacy issues as the leader pointed out. It's my choice to continue the program because the program has worked."


Senator Cotton: (11:53 AM)

  • Spoke on NSA.
    • "For these men and women to even look at the data, it must go through a multistep process that includes approval by four different entities at the N.S.A., numerous attorneys at the Department of Justice, and those very same judges who sit on that court. And even if the search request is granted, not just anyone at N.S.A. can access the data. Access is limited to the small group of men and women, all of whom undergo regular background checks, drug tests and are subject to regular polygraphs, many of whom are military veterans themselves. And to prevent use of the program in retrospect, searches of the data are automatically recorded and regularly audited by both the Inspector General and the Department of Justice with strict penalties for anyone to have found to have committed abuse. Moreover, I, the senator from North Carolina participate in these reviews. This is a robust and layered set of protections for Americans, their privacy and these protections would not exist under the proposed U.S.A. Freedom Act. There are also protections that almost definitely with not be adopted by private telecommunication providers who some wrongly suggest might contain exclusive control of this data."


Senator Sessions: (12:03 PM)

  • Spoke on NSA.
    • "This is the way the system works and has worked the last 50 years -- 40 years at least. A crime occurs. Prosecutor or D.E.A. agents investigate it. They issue a subpoena to the local phone company who has these telephone toll records, the same thing you get in the mail, and they send in response subpoena, they send these documents. So now the computer systems are more sophisticated, there are more phoning calls than ever. It numbers by the tens of millions, probably billions of calls. And so they are reducing their number that they are maintaining in their computers and the subpoenas - I believe Senator Cotton said 18 months maybe they abandon - wipe out all of these record. Well an investigation into terrorism may want to go back five years. So the government, they download the records they maintained in the secure system and they're accessible just like they had been before but actually with less information than the local police get when they issue a subpoena."