ACLU Says New Specter-Cheney NSA Bill Provides Sham Oversight, Says Congress Must Be Independent of the Executive

July 13, 2006
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Contact: media@aclu.org

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WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union today strongly rebuked new legislation offered by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) that would give the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court "optional" review over the National Security Agency’s controversial program to spy on Americans. The legislation was announced this morning and was drafted in close consultation with the White House.

The ACLU and other organizations have filed challenges to the legality of the NSA program.

"This Specter-Cheney bill is nothing short of a capitulation by Chairman Specter to the White House," said Anthony Romero, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union. "The ‘review’ contained in the bill is nothing more than a sham. The president could still choose to ignore the optional court oversight on the program. This new bill would codify the notion that the president is not bound by the laws passed by Congress or the Constitution. It would reward his abuse of power."

"The Senate - and the entire Congress - must provide proper oversight over the executive," said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "The law has been broken by the president, and instead of demanding answers, the Specter-Cheney bill would sanction his illegal activity. We urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to stand for the rule of law and reject this proposal."

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

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