Chairman Hyde, Ranking Member Conyers, and Members, I am pleased to appear before you today to discuss a proposal contained in the anti-terrorism bill in which I've held a long and serious interest. That proposal would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to provide the FBI with mandatory access to consumer reporting agency information. I believe that if approved by Congress, this amendment will add significantly to the FBI's investigative capabilities. In fact, I'm told that senior FBI and Justice Department officials view this proposal as the most important element of the anti-terrorism package because it will so significantly augment the ability of the U.S. to combat terrorist and espionage activities. I am a Member of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit of the Banking and Financial Services Committee. As the Chairman is aware, I also served for six years as a Member of the Intelligence Committee. Thus, I believe I have a unique perspective on both intelligence and banking concerns regarding an amendment to the FCRA. An amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act addresses an anomaly in existing law. Under the Right to Financial Privacy Act (RFPA), the FBI is entitled to obtain Bank and Credit Card Records. However, before the FBI can request access to an individual's records under the RFPA, agents must first identify which financial institutions that individual is using. Consumer identifying information and reports maintained by credit bureaus are a ready source of this information. Financial records are needed to track the activities of suspected spies or terrorists. In the area of counterintelligence, there is a growing need in counterintelligence investigations to follow financial transactions, as foreign intelligence services are increasingly operating under nonofficial cover. And, as the Committee is aware, effective detection of the movement of terrorist funds is essential to detecting terrorist capabilities, funding raising activities and criminal activities. The amendment to the FCRA as it appears in the Administration's legislative package Committee's bill would permit the FBI to obtain limited information regarding a consumer, upon National Security Letter certification by the FBI Director. This limited Information would include the names and addresses of all financial institutions at which a consumer maintains or has maintained an account, and identifying information respecting a consumer -- limited to name, address, former addresses, places of employment, or former places of employment. In addition, the bill specifies that the FBI may obtain a consumer report on a consumer if the director of the FBI obtains a court order that certifies that there are specific and articulable facts that show that such information is necessary for an authorized counterintelligence investigation. It is judged by the administration that an investigation would seldom, if ever, require the full consumer report. The amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act would permit the FBI to conduct investigations of suspected spies and terrorists more efficiently, effectively and with greater security. At this time, the FBI, under a court order, can obtain credit information from a consumer credit agency. However, because of the semi-public nature of the court order process, and because notice to the target would be required at some point, the FBI prefers not to seek court orders. Today's counterintelligence target is generally a sophisticated one; the same can be said of many terrorist groups, who, as the Committee knows, seem to have a good grounding in U.S. law and frequently have devised ways to exploit or evade its strictures. It is true that information on an individual's financial associations can be obtained by other investigatory activities. These activities could include mail covers, surveillance, or interviews with associates. However, these are much more time consuming, and they are potentially more invasive to the suspected individual's privacy. Moreover, due to their invasiveness, there is an increased likelihood of detection by the suspect party. Any hint to the subject that he or she is under investigation will likely cause that individual to cease activity and thus the ability to prosecute the case may be lost through a failure to prove the necessary elements. The Bureau needs other less intrusive and lower risk techniques to obtain the lead material to bring a case to a prosecutive stage and to maximize the intelligence to be gained prior to a case becoming public. Granting the FBI mandatory access via a National Security Letter to consumer credit information can shorten the investigatory process and lesson the chance of detection. Mr. Chairman, this amendment has enjoyed the support of the House. Last year, while still a Member of the Intelligence Committee, I introduced the FBI Counterintelligence Act that sought to amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This was done to follow up on an agreement made between the Intelligence Committees during their conference on the FY95 Intelligence Authorization Act. The Intelligence Committees supported the amendment and were prepared to act on the amendment in their conference. However, the Committees agreed to defer any action due to the jurisdictional concerns of the House Banking Committee. The House Banking Committee also introduced legislation similar to mine following the Intelligence conference. Both measures were passed by the House, but unfortunately were not acted on in the final hours of Senate's 103rd session. At the beginning of the 104th Session, I once more introduced identical legislation as H.R. 68. The proposal to amend the FCRA in the Committee's anti- terrorism bill mirrors H.R. 68, and I look forward to seeing it approved as part of your Committee's anti-terrorism legislation. I understand that there has been some discussion on dropping the sunset provision, and I am fully supportive of doing So, if that is the determination of this Committee. Mr. Chairman, permitting the FBI mandatory access to consumer credit reporting information is an important step toward improving our nation's ability to combat terrorism in that it will permit investigations to be conducted with greater efficiency and effectiveness. Thank you for asking me here today to comment on this proposal. I would be glad to answer any questions that the Committee might have.