ACLU Slams Department of Justice Spy Opinions

December 7, 2007 12:00 am

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Washington, DC – Today, following revelations by Senate Intelligence Committee member Senator Sheldon Whitehouse on secret legal opinions regarding the administration's domestic spying program, the American Civil Liberties Union called on Congress to reject excessive surveillance powers for the administration. The opinions, from the Office of Legal Counsel, were written by the request of the administration as it was searching for new law enforcement and intelligence techniques. The Senate is currently weighing its options with legislation aimed at amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act - the very law President Bush circumvented with his warrantless wiretapping program. In August, the ACLU filed a motion requesting that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) make public the very rulings that Senator Whitehouse spoke of. In an unprecedented order, the FISC required the U.S. government to respond to the request and a decision from the court is pending.

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

"The president and his administration do not get to write a cheat sheet on the back of the Constitution. The president is bound by the same laws that bind every American citizen and to claim otherwise is outrageous. He cannot assert tyrannical power under the guise of Article II of the Constitution - that idea flies in the very face of the Constitution itself.

"This president seems intent on treating the Department of Justice as his personal secret police. Between the firing of US attorneys, a politicized and malnourished civil rights division and the refusal to pursue fraud and torture cases in Iraq, the Justice Department has become completely dysfunctional. The sooner that our president actually reads the Constitution, the better off America will be."

To read more about the ACLU’s work on warrantless wiretapping, go to:

To read more about FISA, go to:

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