ACLU Says Gonzales’ Release of NSA Surveillance Details A First Step, Calls on Congress to Conduct Vigorous Oversight
WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union today said an announcement from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that he will allow key lawmakers to see secret documents on the government's National Security Agency surveillance program under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court a good first step, but urged him to provide Congress with the full details on the program. The announcement comes on the same day that the ACLU appeared before a federal appeals court to challenge the program.
The following may be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:
"The attorney general's decision to provide key lawmakers with these documents is just the beginning. However, given this administration's consistent unwillingness to provide information to Congress and the public, we’re skeptical lawmakers will be given the details they need for meaningful oversight - as mandated by the Constitution. We urge the administration not only to 'talk the talk,' but to 'walk the walk.'
"As we've seen in the past, the Justice Department often hides embarrassing documents under the guise of ‘state secrets,’ often without any justification. But the public has a right to know how this administration has thumbed its nose at the rule of law. The administration still needs to turn over the documentation that it relied on for five years to claim the program was legal when it operated outside any judicial review. Redacted documents and warped legal interpretations cannot be allowed to obscure the truth.
"Even the recent announcement that the program will now, after five years, be subject to a secret court's review does not address the fundamental questions that remain about how many Americans had their private conversations wiretapped. Moreover, the president continues to claim that he has the authority to resume the illegal program without judicial oversight whenever he wants. We urge Congress to stand up for Americans’ privacy and demand the answers that the administration has thus far been unwilling to provide."
To read more about the ACLU’s concerns with the NSA surveillance program, go to: www.aclu.org/nsaspying