Justice Department Asks Intelligence Court To Review New Wiretapping Law In Secret

July 30, 2008 12:00 am

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ACLU Says Any Proceedings On New FISA Law Should Be As Transparent As Possible

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

WASHINGTON – In a brief filed late yesterday with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the Bush administration asked that any review of the new warrantless surveillance law be kept secret and that the court refuse to accept legal briefs from anyone other than the Justice Department itself. The government is responding to a motion the American Civil Liberties Union filed earlier this month asking the FISC to ensure that any proceedings relating to the scope, meaning or constitutionality of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) be open to the public to the extent possible.

The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project:

“The government is proposing that the intelligence court should consider the constitutionality of the new surveillance law in proceedings that will be entirely secret. If the government’s request is granted, the court won’t hear arguments from anyone except the government and those arguments will be presented to the court in secret briefs. At the end of the process, the court will issue a ruling that is also secret. The process the government is proposing is completely unacceptable. Especially because the new surveillance law departs so significantly from the standards that have applied to government surveillance for the last 30 years, any proceedings relating to the new law’s constitutionality should be adversarial and as informed and transparent as possible.”

In a separate legal challenge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the ACLU seeks a court ruling declaring that the FAA is unconstitutional and ordering its immediate and permanent halt. Plaintiffs in the case include Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, the Nation and PEN American Center.

More information about the ACLU’s legal challenges to the FAA is available online at: www.aclu.org/faa

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