Rep. Eshoo was appointed to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in January 2003 and served on it through the conclusion of the 111th Congress in 2010. She also chaired the Subcommittee on Intelligence Community Management, which focuses on policies and management challenges affecting all 16 agencies that comprise the U.S. Intelligence Community.
Rep. Eshoo worked to ensure that U.S. intelligence efforts were consistent with our nation’s values embodied in our Constitution. She also worked to modernize our intelligence-gathering capabilities and to improve Congress’ ability to conduct meaningful oversight of these programs.
Rep. Eshoo championed increased independent oversight in the intelligence community. She fought for the creation of a statutory Inspector General at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. She has also sponsored efforts to ensure that the General Accountability Office (GAO), the nation’s premier audit agency, to be able to bring their expert analysis to the intelligence community.
Rep. Eshoo has been concerned about the private contractor workforce since she joined the Intelligence Committee in 2003. While some contractors provide expertise that the government cannot develop on its own, contractors are often involved in activities that should be reserved for the government, including protecting government personnel on the battlefield, managing other contractors, and developing strategic plans.
In 2000, Congress passed the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA), which gave U.S. courts jurisdiction over contractors in war zones overseas, but only if they are on contract with the Department of Defense. This left a large loophole, with contractors working in war zones overseas for the State Department or other agencies apparently not subject to U.S. court jurisdiction, meaning there has been no clear way to hold them accountable. Rep. Eshoo has consistently supported closing this loophole to ensure that all security contractors in war zones will be held accountable for criminal behavior.
Protecting Fundamental Rights
Rep. Eshoo has fought to protect civil liberties and human rights as the U.S. addresses the threats from terrorism. She has consistently worked to ban the use of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees. She voted to ban the use of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” in interrogations, and fought to guarantee access of the International Committee of the Red Cross for those in U.S. custody.
Rep. Eshoo has been concerned about the increasing use of electronic surveillance as an intelligence-gathering tool. She pushed for greater oversight of electronic surveillance programs and voted against the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which expanded the number of people who can be placed under electronic surveillance without a court order. She also fought granting immunity from lawsuits to telecommunications companies that violated FISA when they cooperated with the Bush Administration to conduct warrantless electronic surveillance. Rep. Eshoo voted against reauthorizing expiring portions of the PATRIOT Act in February 2011 and May 2011.
The National Security Agency (NSA) claims authority for its broad telephone record collection from Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act of 2001. Under the Administration’s interpretation of the law, the government can collect records of all calls made within the U.S., even purely domestic calls between U.S. citizens. Similarly, under Section 702 of the FISA Amendment Act, the NSA is authorized to access the electronic communications of foreigners who are abroad, including the content of those communications. It was never the intent of Congress in passing Section 215 and Section 702 to allow a dragnet surveillance program that captures the communications of all Americans. While Rep. Eshoo recognizes that U.S. counterterrorism agencies need investigative tools to keep Americans safe, she believes the NSA’s reported massive seizure of phone and electronic communications records tramples personal privacy and civil liberties. Rep. Eshoo also believes that U.S. national security can be carried out in an efficient, effective, and prudent manner which is not overly broad and invasive.
In July 2013, Eshoo voted for the Amash/Conyers amendment to the defense spending bill to ensure Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act will no longer be used to justify blanket surveillance programs. The amendment ensures that Section 215 can only be used to target those who are actually the subject of a national security investigation. This would put a stop to the broad, suspicionless data collection programs currently in place, but would still allow the government to target individuals who are suspected of terrorism or national security crimes.