CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 3694, INTELLIGENCE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 1999 -- HON. MICHAEL G. OXLEY (Extension of Remarks - October 09, 1998)
HON. MICHAEL G. OXLEY
in the House of Representatives
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 7, 1998
- Mr. OXLEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the conference report. Specifically, I would like to address Section 604 which gives law enforcement officials multipoint wiretap authority.
- As a former special agent of the FBI, I know from personal experience that the court-authorized interception of communications is one of our most effective tools in our battle against crime. Existing law requires law enforcement officials seeking a court order for a wiretap to specify the telephone to be intercepted. Unfortunately, the modern day criminal too often is aware of this limitation and uses different phones in different locations to carry out his illicit activity. By simply walking down the street to a local pay telephone, an individual suspected of criminal activity can thwart the reasonable investigative efforts of the law enforcement community.
- To solve this growing problem, the multipoint wiretap provision of the Intelligence Authorization Act allows law enforcement officials to obtain court authorization to tap the phones that a person under suspicion actually uses. Thus, if a suspected drug trafficker uses a stolen cellular telephone rather than the phone in his/her residence, the law enforcement community would still be able to gather evidence of wrong-doing. To ensure that these new court-ordered authorizations do not infringe upon the privacy rights of law-abiding Americans, the Conference Report includes a provision that prohibits the activation of a tap unless it is reasonable to presume that the person under suspicion is about to use or is using a given telephone. This is a dramatic step forward for privacy rights because, under current law, once a tap is authorized it is active for the duration of the court order. Innocent Americans could have their conversations monitored if they use a phone also used by a criminal suspect. Under this new provision, the tap would only be operational when a suspect is involved in a conversation.
- Mr. Speaker, in closing, I would like to commend the leadership of Chairman Porter Goss and ranking member Norm Dicks for their efforts on this provision. I would also like to commend Congressman Bill McCollum for his tireless efforts on this issue as well. I believe that a balance has been reached that gives the law enforcement community more effective tools to protect American citizens while also further protecting the privacy rights of our constituents. I urge the adoption of the Conference Report.