The Gavel: House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. released the following statement to President Bush’s commitment to work on foreig
February 14, 2008

The Gavel:

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. released the following statement to President Bush’s commitment to work on foreign surveillance legislation through the recess:

“The President’s efforts to cast blame on FISA, echoed by his allies in Congress, show an appalling disregard for the facts. He threatened to veto any extension of the Protect America Act and, following his lead, every single Republican in the House voted against the 21 day extension I sponsored in the House. The President and House Republicans cannot have it both ways, simultaneously arguing that the PAA is essential to national security and also engineering the defeat of an extension of it. The consequences for inaction are their responsibility.

Unfortunately, it is the same old tired rhetoric of fear that the country overwhelmingly rejected in the 2006 elections.

“From what I have seen from the Justice Department documents so far, there is no need to provide amnesty to telecommunication companies who are protected under current law, as long as they and the government are acting accordingly. I have not seen anything that leads me to believe, as the President seems to believe, that providing amnesty to these companies is a more compelling public interest than our Constitutionally protected right to privacy.

Chairman Silvestre Reyes of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence also issued a statement challenging Bush to "put partisanship aside" on the FISA debate:

The proper course is now to conference the House bill with the Senate bill that was passed on Tuesday. There are significant differences between these two bills and a conference, in regular order, is the appropriate mechanism to resolve the differences between these two bills. I urge you, Mr. President, to put partisanship aside and allow Republicans in Congress to arrive at a compromise that will protect America and protect our Constitution.

I, for one, do not intend to back down - not to the terrorists and not to anyone, including a President, who wants Americans to cower in fear.

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.

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