FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK – In a full-page advertisement in today's New York Times, the American Civil Liberties Union intensified its call for a special counsel to be appointed to determine whether President George W. Bush violated federal wiretapping laws by authorizing illegal surveillance.
The ACLU said President Bush's actions were a clear violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which was passed by Congress in response to revelations that former President Nixon was using "national security" claims to spy on American citizens he considered his "enemies."
"President Nixon was not above the law and neither is President Bush," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. "President Bush cannot use a claim of seeking to preserve our nation to undermine the rules that serve as our foundation. The Attorney General, who may have been involved with the formulation of this policy, must appoint a special counsel to let justice be served."
The advertisement, as well as a similar ACLU ad that ran last Thursday, was spurred by revelations earlier this month that Bush authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct electronic surveillance of people within the United States, including U.S. citizens, without a warrant.
The text of today's advertisement compares the words of President Nixon and President Bush, both of whom denied allegations of illegal spying. Next to the image of Nixon, the advertisement says: "He lied to the American people and broke the law." Below that is an image of President Bush, with the words, "So did he."
The FISA wiretapping law made it a crime to intentionally engage in electronic surveillance without court approval. The president clearly violated the law when he authorized, and then repeatedly reauthorized, the NSA to spy on Americans without first obtaining a warrant, the ACLU said.
In a formal request sent last week to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the ACLU called for the appointment of "an outside special counsel with the independence to investigate and prosecute any and all criminal acts committed by any member of the Executive Branch in the warrantless electronic surveillance of people in the United States over the past four years by the NSA," noting that "such crimes are serious felonies and they need to be fully and independently investigated."
The ACLU's Dec. 29 advertisement is online at www.aclu.org/safefree/spying/23271res20051229.html
The ACLU's Dec. 22 advertisement is online at www.aclu.org/safefree/spying/23203res20051222.html
The ACLU's Dec. 21 letter to Attorney General Gonzales is online at www.aclu.org/safefree/general/23184leg20051221.html
The ACLU's Dec. 20 Freedom of Information Act request seeking information about the NSA's program of warrantless spying on Americans is online at www.aclu.org/safefree/spying/23150prs20051220.html