ACLU Urges House Committee to Reconsider Overly Broad Subpoena of Whistleblower Organization

March 9, 2000 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON — Saying it could compromise efforts to reduce government waste and fraud, the American Civil Liberties Union today urged a congressional committee to reconsider it’s overly broad subpoena of a whistleblower organization’s phone records.

In a letter sent to the Republican and Democratic leadership of the House Committee on Resources, the ACLU said that the panel’s February 17 subpoena for phone records of the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) and its Executive Director could threaten the organization’s rights to freedom of association and freedom of speech.

“Nonprofit organizations can help private citizens or government employees expose government abuses and corruption,” said Louis M. Bograd, an ACLU Senior Staff Attorney who signed the letter to Reps. Don Young, R-AK, and George Miller, D-CA.

“But those who help such organizations often do so expecting anonymity,” Bograd continued. “Forcing the disclosure of those individuals chills the effectiveness of those groups and endangers their freedom of speech and association guaranteed by the First Amendment.

The ACLU said the subpoenas raise additional concerns because they target an organization and its executive director whose mission is to work with whistleblowers who fight fraud and abuses of power within the federal government.

“Disclosing the identity of these whistleblowers could easily result in retaliation against them and could severely compromise efforts to expose waste, fraud and abuse in government,” added Laura M. Murphy, Director of the ACLU’s Washington National Office.

The ACLU’s letter can be found at:

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