Dianne Feinstein on Homeland Security

Last Updated : Sep 25, 2012

Summary

Senator Feinstein has shown consistent support for the Homeland Security apparatus, including legislation such as the PATRIOT Act. She has also spoke out against warrantless wiretapping provisions that grant too much power to the executive branch and go around the FISA courts.

The PATRIOT Act

In 2001, Senator Feinstein supported the passage of the PATRIOT Act calling it a necessary bill whose time had come. She stated that traditionally the American people had asked their government to leave them alone while now they were asking the government to protect them. She noted several provisions that she supported, including the sunset provisions. She also stated that she would by pushing for new legislation to require a database of people to be used by government to identify people the US should be watching and an ID card with biometric data.

In 2005, Senator Feinstein responded to reports that the government had been using wiretaps to monitor US citizens without a warrent through authorization granted in the PATRIOT Act and the 2001 authorization for the use of military force in Afghanistan. She stated in a floor speech that the President was only allowed to conduct such operations within 15 days of a declaration of war and that the resolution authorizing use of force was not a declaration of war and did not authorize the President to do anything other than use force. She went on to state that a wiretap was clearly a search, and in violation of the fourth amendment. She asserted that Congress was never asked to give the President the kind of unilateral authority that he had exercised.

The following year, Senator Feinstein signed on to a letter to President Bush calling on him to provide to the members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence a briefing on the nature and scope of the program of domestic electronic surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency.

When the PATRIOT Act was reauthorized in 2006, Senator Feinstein stated that she had long been a supporter of the USA-Patriot Act and that it is a critical tool in defending the nation against terrorism. She went on to say that the PATRIOT Act was misunderstood and that some people thought that it was related to Guantanamo and some thought that it was related to torture.

In 2006, a court ruled that warrantless wiretapping was not legal. Senator Feinstein responded by stating that while the threat from terror was very real, the constitution must be followed. She called the decision not to go to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for content collection warrants is inexcusable.

FISA

In 2006, Senator Feinstein voted against a bill relating to FISA because it ceded too much power to the executive branch. She asserted that FISA should remain the authority for a domestic surveillance program. She noted that the bill approved by the Judiciary Committee kept FISA as the exclusive authority for wiretapping for foreign intelligence purposes and adapted it so that it can handle emergency needs to wiretap terrorists.

In 2007, Senator Feinstien voted in favor of a 6-month temporary patch to retain the wiretaps but with FISA court approval.

Homeland Security Act

In 2002, Senator Feinstein spoke at length about legislation to create the Department of Homeland Security and changes she would like to see within the legislation. She noted that after the bombing of the USS Cole, committee that addresses terorism began to call for reconstructing the intelligence community and cited the need for better sharing of information. She stated that it would be a disservice to the memories of those killed on 9/11 to fail to pass the legislation.

Also within that speech, Senator Feinstien called for the inclusion of several other reforms within that legislation. She cited the need for reforms to immigration to better care for minor children who come to the US illegally, and the need to ensure that workers within the newly created department of Homeland Security have the right to organize.

 

The PATRIOT Act

On October 25, 2001 Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor in support of the PATRIOT Act. She noted that while a few years ago, Americans wanted to be left alone, now they were looking for the government to protect them.

 

Homeland Security Act

In September of 2002, Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor in support of passing the Homeland Security Act of 2002.

 

The PATRIOT Act

On December 16, 2005 Senator Feinstein spoke in the Senate floor in opposition to provisions of the PATRIOT Act.

 

NSA Domestic Surveillance Program

In January of 2006, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting a letter that she had sent to President Bush urging him to be open and honest about the NSA surveillance program.

 

USA PATRIOT Act Conference Report

On February 16, 2006, Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor in support of the conference report authorizing the new conference report for the USA PATRIOT Act.

 

PATRIOT Act Reauthorization

In February of 2006, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting her support for the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act in a floor speech she made in support of the legislation.

 

Improvements to Legislation

Days later, in February of 2006, Senator Feinstein released a short statement noting her support for the vote to pass the legislation.

 

Keeping Congress Informed

In May of 2006, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting her support for legislation that would require the intelligence community to keep Congress informed about ongoing actions.

 

Halting Warrantless Wiretapping

In August of 2006, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting her response to a federal court order to halt warrantless wiretapping.

In May of 2006, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting her belief that the Bush Administration is moving toward a major Constitutional confrontation with Congress over its warrantless domestic surveillance program and other activities by the National Security Agency. 

 

FISA

In September of 2006, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting her support for a recent bill that affirmed hat FISA was the sole mechanism to acquire electronic surveillance. In May of 2006, Senator Feinstein released a statement noting again her support for the legislation.

 

PROTECT America Act

On August 3, 2007 Senator Feinstien spoke on the Senate floor about the needs to change the FISA regulations due to the increase in chatter. She notes that the bill is temporary in nature and that she intends to support the PROTECT America act and FISA regulation.

 

Changes to FISA

In August of 2007, Senator Feinstein released a statement noting her support for a recent vote to temporarily address changes to FISA.

 

FISA Amendments Act

On January 24, 2008 Senator Feinstien spoke on the Senate floor noting an amendment that she was offering.

 

Opposition to FISA Bill

In February of 2008, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting her intention to vote against a FISA bill that would grant too much authority to the President.

 

Further Discussion of FISA Amendment

On February 11, 2008 Senator Feinstien spoke on the Senate floor and discussed in length the amendments that she was offering.

 

FISA Amendment Acts of 2008

In July of 2008, Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor noting her intention to support the final version of the legislation.

 

Official Website Statements

 

Voting Record

Arrest and Detention of US Citizens - Final Passage

In November of 2011, the Senate voted on the conference report for the Defense appropriations act for 2012 - HR 1540. This final version of the legislation passed 86-13. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the legislation.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the legislation.

Arrest and Detention of US Citizens - Senate Passage

In November of 2011, the Senate voted on the Defense appropriations act for 2012 - S 1867. Part of that legislation was a provision to express the authorization of the military to arrest and indefinitely detain US citizens. The only requirement for this was that the person be suspected of allying with al-Qaida. The legislation passed 93-7. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the legislation.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the legislation.

Arrest and Detention of US Citizens - Cloture

In November of 2011, the Senate voted on the Defense appropriations act for 2012 - S 1867. Part of that legislation was a provision to express the authorization of the military to arrest and indefinitely detain US citizens. The only requirement for this was that the person be suspected of allying with al-Qaida. The cloture motion passed 88-12. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of cloture to allow the bill to be considered.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of cloture to allow the bill to be considered.

Arrest and Detention of US Citizens - Udall Amendment to Repeal Provision

In November of 2011, the Senate voted on the Defense appropriations bill. This legislation contained provisions to allow for the arrest and indefinite detention of US citizens if they were merely suspected of allying with al-Qaida. Senator Udall offered an amendment to remove this specific section. The attempt failed 38-60. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the Udall amendment to repeal the authorization for the arrest and indefinate detention of US citizens.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the Udall amendment to repeal the authorization for the arrest and indefinate detention of US citizens.

FISA Amendment Acts of 2007

In February of 2008, the Senate voted on the FISA Amendment Acts of 2007. The legislation passed the Senate with bipartisan support 68-29, but was never raised in the House. The legislation primarily contained provisions to allow for the monitoring of terrorists overseas that were a continuation of expired provisions in the Protect America Act. It also granted immunity to telecommunications companies against their customers for giving information to the government without a warrant. Dianne Feinstein voted against the FISA Amendment Acts of 2007.

Dianne Feinstein voted against the FISA Amendment Acts of 2007.

Restore Habeas Corpus

In September of 2009, the Senate voted on an amendment to restore habeas corpus rights to the prisoners a Guantanamo Bay. The measure received a majority of the votes, but not enough to pass. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the measure to restore habeas corpus rights to the prisoners.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the measure to restore habeas corpus rights to the prisoners.

Protect America Act of 2007

The Protect America Act of 2007 dealt with certain aspects of electronic surveillance and the overall war on terror. In the vote to pass the legislation, most Republicans supported the bill and only about 1/3 of the Democrats supported the legislation. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the Protect America Act of 2007.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the Protect America Act of 2007.

Military Commission Act of 2006

The Military Commissions Act passed in response to a supreme court ruling which stated that stated that military tribunals established by the Bush administrations did not align with the UCMJ. The Act defined unlawful enemy combatants and allowed for the military tribunals to be held. It passed the Senate 65-34. Dianne Feinstein voted against the Military Commission Act of 2006.

Dianne Feinstein voted against the Military Commission Act of 2006.

USA PATRIOT Reauthorization Act

In March of 2006, congress reauthorized the USA PATRIOT Act. Despite the fact that the PATRIOT Act had become a controversial topic, only 4 Senators opposed the act in the actual vote. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the USA PATRIOT Reauthorization Act.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the USA PATRIOT Reauthorization Act.

Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004

In October of 2004, congress passed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. The act was meant to reform national intelligence, and it created the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The act passed the Senate with only 2 dissenting votes. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.

The Homeland Security Act of 2002

In November 2002, the Senate passed the Homeland Security Act of 2002. Among other things, the act created the Department of Homeland Security, and set forth the jurisdiction of that department. In the vote, almost all Republicans supported the legislation and only a small percentage of Democrats opposed it. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the Homeland Security Act of 2002.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the Homeland Security Act of 2002.

The Patriot Act

In October of 2001, Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act. Although the act passed the senate with 1 dissenting vote and 1 \"No Vote\", it has become one of the more divisive pieces of legislation. This is partly due to the expansion of governmental wiretapping privileges. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the PATRIOT Act.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the PATRIOT Act.

Authorization for the Use of Force

Three days after the attacks of September 11, the senate authorized the use of military force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. The vote was unanimous. Dianne Feinstein voted to give President Bush the Authorization for the use of force.

Dianne Feinstein voted to give President Bush the Authorization for the use of force.

 

Sponsored and Cosponsored Legislation

Session-112; Bill Number-S 289; FISA Sunsets Extension Act of 2011 - Prime Sponsor

Amends the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 to extend through December 31, 2013, a provision granting roving electronic surveillance authority. Amends the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 to extend until December 31, 2013, a provision revising the definition of an "agent of a foreign power" to include any non-U.S. person who engages in international terrorism or preparatory activities ("lone wolf" provision). Amends the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 to extend through December 31, 2013, certain additional procedures concerning the electronic surveillance of certain persons outside the United States for foreign intelligence information purposes.

Session-110; Bill Number-S 185; Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007 - Cosponsor

Repeals provisions of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that eliminated the jurisdiction of any court to hear or consider applications for a writ of habeas corpus filed by aliens who have been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as enemy combatants (or who are awaiting such determination) and actions against the United States relating to the detention of such aliens and to military commissions (thus restoring habeas corpus rights existing prior to the enactment of such Act).Allows courts to hear or consider legal challenges to military commissions only as provided by the Code of Military Justice or by a habeas corpus proceeding.

Session-110; Bill Number-S 1237; Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2007 - Cosponsor

A bill to increase public safety by permitting the Attorney General to deny the transfer of firearms or the issuance of firearms and explosives licenses to known or suspected dangerous terrorists.

Session-109; Bill Number-S 2082; Extending Provisions of the PATRIOT Act - Cosponsor

A bill to amend the USA PATRIOT ACT to extend the sunset of certain provisions of that Act and the lone wolf provision of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 to March 31, 2006.

Session-109; Bill Number-S 2369; Delayed Notice Search Warrants - Cosponsor

A bill to require a more reasonable period for delayed-notice search warrants, to provide enhanced judicial review of FISA orders and national security letters, to require an enhanced factual basis for a FISA order, and to create national security letter sunset provisions.

Session-104; Bill Number-S 390; A bill to improve the ability of the United States to respond to the international terrorist threat. - Cosponsor

This legislation established a number of provisions relating to electronic surveillance. It also established that terrorists were not allowed to know about the surveillance performed on them and they were not allowed to suppress information.

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