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Reauthorizing Patriot Act

Floor Speech

Date: March 11, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. MASSIE. Mr. Speaker, some of my colleagues today will offer a bill to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act.

It will have the thin varnish of reform on it, designed to whitewash the egregious constitutional violations that have been going on, but it is the Americans who are going to be shellacked by this legislation and the process used to pass it.

I want to read the Fourth Amendment and part of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution here today on the floor.

``The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.''

The Fifth Amendment says: Nor shall any person be ``deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.''

So, let's think about some of these words because they are being treated as if they are curse words or dirty words today. Warrant, due process, probable cause, these are all things that are guaranteed as rights for all Americans in the Constitution, and none of those can be guaranteed without transparency.

We can't have star chambers and kangaroo courts. This has to happen in daylight, and it has to be reviewable by the people in order to know that these things are true.

These things, they are inconvenient, a warrant, due process, probable cause. They are inconvenient for investigators. They are inconvenient for prosecutors. They sometimes get in the way. They make the job of finding the criminals, of finding the terrorists, a little bit harder. But they are guaranteed rights of all Americans, so we have to keep them in the process.

But let me talk about the legislative process here today, and I want to challenge the authors of this bill to come down here and defend what they have done.

This bill started out in a committee. This is how it is supposed to happen, as a base bill. Then, as the debate started getting underway, oh, it got inconvenient. Things were said that people didn't want to be said. Amendments were offered to make it more constitutional. They didn't like that.

What did they do? The chairman of the committee pulled the bill, canceled the hearing, and canceled the markup of this bill, and they took it behind closed doors. They took it into the back room to write it. They took it into the back room to draft it.

Why did they go into the back room? Because the lobbyists aren't in the committee, and the deep state doesn't get a vote on the committee, so they got them in the back room with them. The lobbyists and the deep state helped draft this bill that we are going to vote on today.

How much time do we have to review it? Less than 24 hours. Last night is when they made the text available.

There is a rule in this House that guarantees 72 hours to review a bill. They are going to suspend that rule here in a few minutes, and people will willingly vote to suspend that rule so they can ram this bill through, so that they can reauthorize the unconstitutional provisions of the PATRIOT Act.

Now, I understand terrorists, foreign terrorists, don't have constitutional rights, so that is why the PATRIOT Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act were passed, so that those impediments wouldn't be in the way when you are going after terrorists, foreign terrorists. But everybody is presumed innocent until proven guilty, so we need to maintain that.

One of the worst things that has happened as a result of the FISA and the PATRIOT Act is that a Presidential candidate was spied on. He is now the President. He overcame that. But this bill should fix that.

A candidate, Presidential, congressional, city councilman, never again should they be spied on using these tools that are supposed to go after terrorists, after foreigners.

I urge my colleagues in the House--well, the ones who have offered this bill, I urge them to get down here and defend what they have done. I urge them to come down here and explain why they don't want us to have--they don't want you to have 72 hours to look at this bill. Come down and defend that.

Then, for all of my other colleagues here in the House, I urge you to vote ``no.'' And for my friends in the Senate, vote ``no'' as well.

If this should make it to the President's desk, which I fear it is going to--I fear it is going to be on his desk, and he has some unwise or insincere counselors right now. I urge the President, if this should make it to his desk, to remember what they did to him with this legislation. Remember. And I urge him to veto this bill if this should get there this week.