Remarks by the President After Meeting with Attorney General Lynch
4:23 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Attorney General Lynch and I just discussed a wide range of issues in the regular meetings that I have with some of my top Cabinet members. And we discussed issues of cybersecurity, discussed the important role that the FBI and the Justice Department play in our counterterrorism efforts, as well as discussing issues like community policing and human trafficking.
But I thought this would be a good opportunity before we break for the weekend to just remind everyone that on Sunday at midnight, a whole bunch of authorities that we use in order to prevent terrorist attacks in this country expire. Fortunately, the House of Representatives was able to put forward a piece of legislation, the USA Freedom Act, that received overwhelming bipartisan support. And what it does is not only continue authorities that currently exist and are not controversial -- for example, the capacity of the FBI for other law enforcement agencies to use what’s called a roving wiretap. So we know that there is an individual where there’s probable cause, that that individual might be engaged in a terrorist act but is switching cell phones, we can move from cell phone to cell phone -- not a controversial provision. Those authorities would be continued.
What the USA Freedom Act also does is it reforms the bulk data collection program of significant concern and that I promised we could reform over a year and a half ago. So we now have Democrats and Republicans in both the House and the Senate think this is the right way to go. We’ve got our law enforcement, national security teams, and civil liberties proponents and advocates who say this is the right way to go. The only thing that’s standing in the way is a handful of senators who are resisting these reforms despite law enforcement and the IC saying let’s go ahead and get this done.
So we’ve only got a few days. These authorities expire on Sunday at midnight. And I don’t want us to be in a situation in which, for a certain period of time, those authorities go away and suddenly we’re dark and, heaven forbid, we’ve got a problem where we could have prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who was engaged in dangerous activity, but we didn’t do so simply because of inaction in the Senate. So I have indicated to Leader McConnell and other senators I expect them to take action and take action swiftly -- that’s what the American people deserve.
And this is not an issue in which we have to choose between security and civil liberties; this is an issue in which we, in fact, have struck the right balance and shaped a piece of legislation that everybody can support. So let’s go ahead and get it done.
Q Mr. President, do you have a reaction to the indictment of Senator Hastert --
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Great to see you guys. Thank you.
Q Any reaction to Iraq?
Q Rahm Emanuel says he is saddened by the indictment of Senator Hastert --
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much.
4:28 P.M. EDT