ACLU Commends Congressional Subpoenas for Spy Documents

June 21, 2007 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON– Since the disclosure of the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program in December of 2005, few facts about the origins of the program have come to light. Today the American Civil Liberties Union applauded the Senate Judiciary Committee for scheduling a vote to authorize subpoenas for documents on the legal underpinnings of the President’s wiretapping programs.

“Subpoenaing these documents is the only way to find out exactly what kind of legal ground the president’s warrantless wiretapping program was built on and how it is structured,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “With recent revelations that those in the Justice Department threatened to resign over the program, Congress is obligated to demand the roadmap that led them there. Too many administration officials have been vague and, at times, outright uncooperative in the face of legitimate Congressional requests and panels. It’s time to cut through the stonewalling and get real answers.”

The ACLU is requesting that the following documents be subpoenaed by Congress:

  • Executive branch memos and internal documents including emails from 2001 to 2007 discussing the legality of warrantless surveillance
  • Department of Justice “certifications” for the program
  • Executive orders authorizing the program
  • Any and all agreements between the government and telecommunications companies regarding their role in the program, including any indemnification agreements
  • Executive branch memos regarding current activities authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

The ACLU is also requesting the sworn testimony of the following people regarding their role in the NSA warrantless wiretapping program:

  • Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
  • Vice President Dick Cheney
  • FBI Director Robert Mueller
  • Former NSA Director Michael Hayden
  • Former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card
  • Former Solicitor General Ted Olson
  • Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel John Yoo
  • Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Patrick Philbin
  • CEOs of Telecommunications companies complicit in the warrantless wiretapping program
  • Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey
  • Former Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice, Jack Goldsmith

The ACLU has been working actively in both the legislature and courts to seek answers in regards to the legal justification of the NSA’s program. Shortly after the revelation of the president’s domestic spying, the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the legal basis of the program on behalf of a coalition of criminal defense attorneys, journalists, and scholars. The government attempted to have the case dismissed based on national security and state secret concerns, but ultimately the judge agreed with the ACLU that the program was unconstitutional. The government appealed and the case is currently awaiting a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Sixth Circuit.

“A year and a half after the administration’s domestic spying became public, we still know very little about the program’s origins and how it functions,” said Fredrickson. “We ask that those in the House and Senate not back down until they receive answers. Americans’ rights and privacy were violated and we need to know why.”

To read more about the work the ACLU has done on NSA Spying, go to:

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