House Leadership Rejects Compromise on Intelligence Reform, ACLU Calls For Better Privacy and Rights Protections in New Bill

November 20, 2004 12:00 am

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Statement of Laura W. Murphy,
Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office


WASHINGTON – Despite indications earlier that a compromise on the intelligence reform legislation had been reached, the Republican House leadership today pulled the bill, making it highly unlikely that it will be concluded during this session of Congress. From a civil liberties standpoint, the bill was far from perfect.

However, it must be noted that much progress had been made. The Senate conferees confronted their House counterparts and refused to accept all of the anti-immigration and unnecessary law enforcement powers. Despite a final agreement, the Republican House leadership refused to accept that compromise and instead showed their hand by relentlessly pushing their political agenda. In the end, it seems that the House leadership was more interested in pushing an anti-immigrant, anti-civil liberties agenda than allowing for a bipartisan, good faith effort to move forward. It remains unclear as to whether the House leadership will be willing to compromise on these issues when Congress considers intelligence reform again.

The ACLU looks forward to working with lawmakers and organizations from across the political spectrum to ensure that any intelligence reform bill is consistent with fundamental values of freedom and democracy. We worked with the conservative Cuban American National Foundation, the American Conservative Union, the Free Congress Foundation and the Gun Owners of America to improve this legislation and we look forward to working with them again. As Senator Collins noted at a press conference today, this bill is not the proper vehicle to consider immigration reform – and that sentiment can be applied to the Patriot Act-like powers as well. Congress should give each of these important but separate issues thorough and public review.

We hope that when Congress returns to consideration of this important issue, it takes steps to enact an independent civil liberties board with strong oversight powers, reject steps to lay the foundation for a national ID card, stop unnecessary attacks on immigrants and drop the unwarranted expansion of law enforcement powers. Lawmakers must always remember that we must not undermine our democracy in order to protect it — we must maintain that delicate balance and strive to ensure that we remain both safe and free.

To read more about the ACLU’s concerns with the intelligence reform legislation, go to:

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