April 26, 2006

Contact: Media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON - In anticipation of Thursday's expected mark-up by the Senate Judiciary Committee of various bills concerning the warrantless domestic surveillance of Americans by the National Security Agency, the American Civil Liberties Union today urged members of that panel to reject attempts to legislate on that issue without a full investigation into the illegal program.

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director:

"Tomorrow the Senate Judiciary Committee is poised to consider bills that would ratify the illegal NSA program to spy on Americans. Congress should investigate the illegal spying program, and not legislate in the dark or after-the-fact. The American people are entitled to know how many of their phone calls and emails the NSA has monitored without any judicial check or congressional approval. How else will we know that anti-terrorism resources are focused on al Qaeda and not on innocent American residents?

"In our America, no one is above the law, not even the president. Whether it is by allowing torture abroad and failing to hold high-level officials accountable, or eavesdropping without a court warrant at home, this president is violating America's values of freedom and fairness. Congress has failed to serve as a check on the executive branch, eroding a cornerstone of our Constitution.

"Our Founding Fathers insisted on preserving our liberty by limiting federal power and providing rules for the government to follow before invading our privacy. One of the things they most feared was unbridled, unchecked executive power.

"This administration's track record on domestic spying and running rough shod over the Constitution is shameful. If Congress aids the president in sweeping the facts under the rug rather than getting them on the table, their crumbling to the presidential pressure rather than defending the Constitution will be equally shameful."

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

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