WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union today applauded House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) for holding a hearing to examine the constitutionality of the recent search of the Capitola Hill office of Congressman William Jefferson (D-LA) by federal agents, and renewed its call for the committee to hold hearings on other searches and conduct of the Bush administration that ignore the rule of law.
The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:
"While no one is above the law - neither a president nor a member of Congress - the executive’s search of a congressional office, even with a warrant, could have the effect of chilling congressional oversight of administration conduct. We applaud Chairman Sensenbrenner for examining this issue, and we urge him to call hearings on the many examples of the administration’s abuse of power.
"From warrantless NSA wiretapping, to obtaining phone call information about millions of Americans, to the practice of rendering individuals to countries known to engage in torture, this administration has consistently abused the power of the executive branch and demonstrated a disdain for Congress and the rule of law. The Constitution and our laws are not mere advice to the president; they are rules by which the government must abide.
"As Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Sensenbrenner can seek to compel administration officials to testify on these gross violations of privacy and fundamental freedoms. The recent search of one congressional office by federal law enforcement officials has made some members of Congress keenly aware of the White House’s extraordinary claims of executive power. We hope that this outrage and concern, which hits home for lawmakers, extends to the millions of Americans whose call information and conversations have been monitored by the National Security Agency without a court order. Congress must put an end to the administration’s stonewalling and investigate these gross abuses of power."
For more on the ACLU’s concerns with the warrantless NSA
eavesdropping program, go to: