ACLU Slams House Panels’ Approval of Wilson NSA Spying Bill, Says Measure Undermines Constitution, Condones Abuse of Power

September 20, 2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union today strongly rebuked the House Judiciary Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence as both committees approved H.R. 5825, the "Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act." That bill, authored by Representative Heather Wilson (R-NM) would give the president unprecedented power and authorize the warrantless surveillance program conducted by the National Security Agency.

The Intelligence Committee approved a different version of the bill than the one adopted by the Judiciary Committee. Both versions fail to put adequate checks on the executive to conduct surveillance and give the president unparalleled powers to ignore the protections of the Fourth Amendment.

The following may be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

"Today, two separate House committees failed to stand for the rule of law and in doing so failed the American people. These lawmakers belong in a national hall of shame for placing party over principle and giving the president a blank check to continue his abuse of power. Today’s votes authorize more warrantless surveillance of Americans than has ever been approved by any Congress in our history.

"Congresswoman Wilson’s bill - both the original and the substitute - gives the president tacit approval to ignore the Constitution and our laws. One federal court has already found the warrantless spying to be illegal and unconstitutional. But these lawmakers chose to ignore the findings of the judiciary. We urge fair-minded lawmakers in both chambers to stand for the rule of law and reject this reckless and dangerous proposal."

The ACLU’s letter on the original Wilson bill is available at: www.aclu.org/images/nsaspying/asset_upload_file325_26507.pdf

The ACLU’s letter on the substitute Wilson bill is available at:  www.aclu.org/safefree/general/26795leg20060920.html

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