FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 21, 2004
Schumer: Vital Tool In War On Terror Languishing, Awaiting Push From Bush
Bipartisan Schumer-Kyl FISA Bill Passed Senate 90-4 Nearly One Year Ago, But President Has Yet to Lift a Finger to Persuade House of Representatives to Act
Had Schumer-Kyl Bill Been Law Before 9/11, FBI Could Have Obtained Moussaoui Search Warrants and Hijackers’ Plot May Have Been Uncovered Rhetoric Does Not Match Reality; FBI Needs Presidential Action
US Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on President Bush to use his clout with the House of Representatives to secure passage of urgently-needed legislation in the war on terror. The bill, which is sponsored by Senators Schumer and John Kyl (R-AZ) and passed the Senate 90-4 nearly a year ago, would give the FBI the power to get foreign intelligence surveillance warrants on “lone wolf” terrorists who cannot be linked to existing terror groups.
The hearings before the 9/11 Commission have made it clear that FBI agents did not obtain a search warrant for Zacharias Moussaoui’s computer because they did not know until after 9/11 that he was tied to a foreign terrorist group, a prerequisite for a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Had the Schumer-Kyl bill been law at the time, there is no doubt that the FBI could have gotten a FISA warrant and it is conceivable that the information on Moussaoui’s computer would have led the FBI to unravel the 9/11 plot.
“The bipartisan “lone wolf” terrorist bill is an important tool for law enforcement, but it’s not even in the toolbox yet because the House has failed to act,” Schumer said. “If the President would snap his fingers, the bill would become law and the FBI would have another important weapon in the war on terror.”
“The rhetoric simply does not match the reality,” Schumer said. “The FBI wants this law, the FBI needs this law, but the FBI can’t have this law because the House of Representatives refuses to act. It’s mind-boggling that given what we’ve learned from the 9/11 Commission hearings, the President still hasn’t called Tom Delay and told him to get it done.”