WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union today urged the House of Representatives to support a bipartisan amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act for FY 2007 that would cut off funding for warrantless wiretapping conducted by the National Security Agency. The measure is sponsored by Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Jay Inslee (D-WA), Bob Inglis (R-SC) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).
"We applaud these lawmakers from both sides of the aisle for demanding that the president adhere to the rule of law," said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "We hope that the House will adopt this much-needed fix and bring an end to this particular abuse of power. The NSA needs to get out of the business of spying on innocent Americans in their homes and start respecting the Constitution."
The bipartisan amendment provides that none of the funds appropriated in the appropriations bill can be used to conduct electronic surveillance in the United States except pursuant to criminal wiretapping statutes and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). As the National Security Agency is funded by the bill, this would cut off funding for the illegal spying program.
The ACLU noted that the amendment would still permit domestic wiretapping under FISA rules to target agents of al Qaeda or other terrorist organizations. It also would not alter the ability, under the criminal code, to wiretap when there is probable cause that a target is engaged in terrorist activity.
"This amendment helps focus the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping where it belongs - overseas," said Gregory T. Nojeim, Associate Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "We urge the House to help restore the rule of law."
To read the ACLU’s letter on the amendment, go to: www.aclu.org/safefree/nsaspying/2html948leg20060620.html
For more on the ACLU’s concerns with the warrantless NSA eavesdropping program, go to: www.aclu.org/nsaspying