ACLU Encouraged By New Spy Deadline

August 8, 2007 12:00 am

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Washington, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union was encouraged today by a new deadline set by the Senate Judiciary Committee for documents it subpoenaed from the White House. In a letter to White House Counsel Fred Fielding, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked that internal documents relating to the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program be turned over to the committee by August 20. The White House asked for an extension, one day before the original July 18 deadline, claiming it would not have been able to “come close to completing” a document review. In the meantime, both the House and the Senate passed sweeping legislation to expand the very law the administration circumvented with its domestic spying – the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The legislation, pushed through Congress at the behest of the White House and subject to a six-month sunset provision, essentially authorized the very program that Senator Leahy and the committee are seeking information about.

The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“While this new deadline is a step in the right direction and we are confident of Chairman Leahy’s leadership, we remain skeptical of the outcome of these subpoenas. If both the House and Senate are serious about revisiting the reckless and broad FISA legislation they passed before recess, the Senate Judiciary Committee must enforce these subpoenas and get the documents it requested six weeks ago. Obtaining the original legal basis for this program is the best way for lawmakers to figure out what they just authorized with the administration’s FISA proposal.

“Now that lawmakers actually have the time to read the bill they passed, hopefully its impact will sink in. For five years, the administration had free rein to spy on Americans and, with Congress’ help, they just got six more months. Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights were violated and we need to know why – whether we’ll find out or not is up to Congress. We urge every member of the Senate to do what many of them did not do when they voted to gut FISA – stand behind Chairman Leahy as he stands up to this administration.”

For more information on the NSA subpoenas, go to:

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