ACLU: White House Outreach to Intelligence Reform Conferees Short-Sighted; Freedom and Liberty, Not Political Pressure, Should Guide Congress

October 19, 2004 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today called the White House’s outreach to the Congressional conferees on intelligence reform legislation short-sighted and urged lawmakers to strip from the final bill those provisions that unnecessarily attack immigrants and undermine privacy. The House and Senate conferees are scheduled to meet tomorrow to reconcile the differences between the two bills, both of which were introduced initially as measures to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

Today, the White House submitted a letter to the conferees outlining the provisions of the legislation that the president supports and opposes.

“The Bush administration is clearly feeling the heat on these extraneous and dangerous provisions,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Although it continues to stubbornly endorse measures that would cut away at checks and balances for immigrants, expand the Patriot Act, add eight new death penalties and remove meaningful civil liberties protections, the White House has signaled that it can still be swayed by political pressures.”

“It seems that the White House is reacting to growing pressure from crucial voter groups, like Cubans in Florida, in opposing some of the anti-immigration provisions,” Murphy added. “The letter is evidence that the administration realizes that there are tremendous political risks if it ignores the protests of these key constituencies in this close presidential election. Appeasing potential voters should not be how we undergo the greatest restructuring of our nation’s intelligence systems – a commitment to freedom and liberty should.”

The ACLU renewed its commitment to continue to work with members of Congress and organizations across the political spectrum to ensure that any intelligence reform adopted by Congress makes America both safe and free.

For more on the ACLU’s concerns with Congress’s implementation of the 9/11 Commission’s findings, go to:
/intelligencereform

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