FLEOA Letter Opp​osing the ​Walden Amdt

September 5, 2014

The Honorable Fred Upton
House Committee on Energy and Commerce
2183 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Henry A. Waxman
Ranking Member
House Committee on Energy and Commerce
2204 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Upton and Ranking Member Waxman:

On behalf of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), exclusively representing federal agents and officers nationwide, I am writing to express our strong opposition to Representative Walden's amendment to H.R. 1575. This amendment will only amount to a legislative trip-wire being thrown in the path of first responders.

To wit, paragraph (b) under Section 222A of the amendment calls for "a sworn written statement from such officer stating the facts that support such officer's probable cause to believe that disclosure without delay is required." That provision creates a potentially perilous contradiction to the exigent importance of the law enforcement officer's request. Once lives are at risk, you can't be in a part exigent state.  Additionally, the provider does not have a need to know the "facts" and the "probable cause" threshold is not relevant to the exigent circumstances listed in subparagraph (1) and (2). Instead, Representative Walden's amendment could have simply called
for the law enforcement officer to follow up 48 hours after the request with a written statement that lists their name, contact information, date of request, the  telecommunication device in question, and that the request was made pursuant to H.R. 1575.

Telecommunications providers have no expertise in assessing a law enforcement officer's determination that an exigent circumstance exists. That's why all law  enforcement components have internal affairs, offices of professional responsibility, inspector generals, and other components to review actions taken by law enforcement officers when warranted. Additionally, the "facts" surrounding the request may be sensitive and should not be in the uncleared hands of a telecommunication provider.

Regarding paragraph (d) that requires the officer to request a court order within 48
hours after their request, to corroborate their probable cause conclusion, that's nonsense and unwarranted for the same reasons stated above. Every law enforcement component has a chain of command that is responsible for, and review, officers' and agent's actions. That's their responsibility, and they do it well.

I respectfully request that you oppose this flawed amendment that will only serve to
cripple law enforcement's emergency response capabilities. This amendment doesn't protect the American public; instead, it serves to obstruct law enforcement's ability to respond to emergency circumstances that are triggered by the spontaneous violence of suspected terrorists, child predators, fugitives and other dangerous criminals. We are optimistic that you will decide to move forward with H.R. 1575, sans the misguided amendment.

Jon Adler
National President