ACLU Asks Congress to Use Subpoena Powers for Spy Documents: Calls for an End to Warrantless Wiretapping

June 7, 2007 12:00 am


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Washington, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union testified today before a Congressional panel about the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program. The hearing – the first held on the NSA program in the 110th Congress – was held by the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties. Since the disclosure of the NSA’s program in December of 2005, the ACLU has been actively seeking answers both in the courts and Congress.

“Americans deserve to know the extent of this program,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “When it comes to giving the public answers, the administration has been dragging its feet and stonewalling for over a year now. Finally, the tide is turning. We’re optimistic in the wake of Congress’ effort to get to the bottom of this unconstitutional program. We must not lose momentum.”

In early 2006, the ACLU filed suit on behalf of a coalition of criminal defense attorneys, journalists, and scholars challenging the NSA’s warrantless surveillance of Americans’ calls and emails. The government argued that the case could not be litigated without the disclosure of government secrets and that the case should therefore be dismissed. In August 2006, a federal court in Michigan agreed with the ACLU that the program was illegal. The government appealed the decision and the ACLU is currently awaiting a decision from the 6th Circuit Court.

Meanwhile in Congress, both the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence publicly refused last week to consider the administration’s legislation to expand the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act until it received the orders the president issued authorizing the NSA program. In fact, lawmakers just saw another deadline pass after the Senate Judiciary Committee demanded and did not receive specific documents related to the program by Tuesday, June 5. The documents were requested in a letter to Attorney General Gonzales on May 21.

“Unchecked and judicially unsupervised surveillance by the National Security Agency presents a serious threat to American democracy,” said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, in his testimony before Congress. “We welcome this spirit of oversight and applaud Chairman Nadler and the subcommittee for holding this hearing.”

For more on the ACLU’s concerns with the warrantless NSA eavesdropping program, go to:
/nsaspying

To read the ACLU’s testimony, go to:
/safefree/nsaspying/30025leg20070607.html

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