June 29, 2006

Organization Calls for Privacy Protections for Financial Records, Careful Investigation Before Congress Legislates

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                           
Contact: media@dcaclu.org                                

WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today urged the House of Representatives to vote against a resolution that would support the Administration’s program to collect financial information obtained by the SWIFT financial clearinghouse. The House resolution also condemns the news media’s disclosure of that program.

The resolution was drafted by the House Republican leadership mainly in response to the story broken by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times.  The resolution, H. Res. 895, is being voted on today.

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

“Without the full facts, the House is seeking to condone a controversial Bush program.  Instead of passing this resolution, Congress should investigate this White House’s refusal to follow the rule of law.  The White House should stop blaming those who have leaked this information and instead end its abuse of power.  Congress should be demanding exhaustive hearings determine whether this administration’s program threatens the privacy of Americans. 

“What is becoming clear is that Americans' sensitive financial information has been opened to the prying eyes of the government for years without any independent review.  Instead of targeting the media, Congress should be prioritizing our citizens’ privacy.  Congress is not fulfilling its constitutional role of providing the oversight that the American people so desperately need.  Our government cannot possibly deem something ’lawful‘ when there has been no clear explanation of the depth and scope of the SWIFT program.  Congress should not bless the administration’s flipping through our checkbooks before it investigates.”

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