FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON -- The American Civil Liberties Union today urged the House Judiciary Committee to adopt several resolutions that would formally request any and all documents relating to the illegal National Security Agency domestic spying program authorized by President Bush.
“The need for a comprehensive investigation into the NSA’s domestic surveillance is essential to find out exactly which laws were broken,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Lawmakers must not forget their oaths and disregard the administration’s infringement of average Americans’ constitutional rights. The White House has repeatedly admitted to the use of warrantless wiretaps and has yet to be held accountable. Checks and balances on presidential power are essential to protect the rights of Americans.”
The House Judiciary Committee met today to consider House Resolutions 643 and 644. These “resolutions of inquiry” request that the president and attorney general submit all documents “relating to the authorization of the electronic surveillance of citizens of the United States without court approved warrants.” The resolutions direct both President Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to submit the documents within fourteen days of the resolutions’ passage.
The president and the attorney general have consistently rejected the ACLU’s position that the warrantless domestic spying program goes beyond the boundaries of the law. Yet numerous legal experts, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, and indeed, members of Congress have repeatedly disputed the White House’s position that the illegal spying program is consistent with the Constitution.
These proposed resolutions, if adopted, would compel President Bush and Attorney General Gonzales to produce documents that will give Congress and the American people more insight into whether the facts square with the administration’s rhetoric about domestic spying. They will also help fill in many of the blanks that Attorney General Gonzales left empty when he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 6.
“The attorney general’s answers to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s clear-cut questions were vague and noncommittal at best,” said Lisa Graves, ACLU Senior Counsel for Legislative Strategy. “The administration has stonewalled Congress and the people about how this evasion of the law affects the rights of innocent Americans and wastes precious resources on inquiries that don’t pass muster. These resolutions of inquiry are a much-needed step to rein in the rapidly expanding executive power. Americans deserve a government that is bound by the rule of law. We enthusiastically support Congress’ initiative in getting to the bottom of this illegal program.”
For more on the ACLU’s concerns with the warrantless NSA spying program, go to: