January 5, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Answers Needed as Patriot Act Debate Continues, ACLU
NEW YORK -- As
President George W. Bush continues to push for Patriot Act renewal, the American
Civil Liberties Union ran a full-page advertisement in the New York Times today
criticizing the president for authorizing the National Security Agency to engage
in illegal surveillance of Americans.
The ad, which is the third
in a series, quotes the president's statement that the Patriot Act has clear
safeguards to ensure that law enforcement officers need court approval to place
a wiretap. The ACLU says such statements contradict President Bush's approval of
warrantless spying on American citizens.
"President Bush has lied
to the American public while secretly authorizing government agents to run
roughshod over our civil liberties," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D.
Romero. "The president's own actions make it clear that we need additional
checks on broad federal powers that threaten the freedom of innocent
The new ACLU ad quotes President Bush discussing the
Patriot Act on June 9, 2005, stating that law enforcement officers need a
federal judge's permission to engage in electronic surveillance of a suspected
terrorist. But, in light of the president's repeated NSA authorizations, the ad
asks, "Why did we bother debating the Patriot Act if President Bush could make
up his own rules about spying on U.S. citizens?"
as well as similar ACLU ads that ran in December, compare the actions and words
of President Bush and former President Nixon, both of whom denied allegations of
illegal spying. The current ad highlights the concerns of John W. Dean, former
legal counsel to Nixon: "In acting here without Congressional approval, Bush has
underlined that his Presidency is unchecked -- in his and his attorneys’ view,
utterly beyond the law. Now that he has turned the truly awesome powers of the
NSA on Americans, what asserted powers will Bush use next?"
Today's advertisement follows reports that the Justice Department,
rather than investigating the legality of the NSA surveillance, is seeking out
individuals who disclosed information on the program. The ACLU has called for
the appointment of an outside special counsel to determine whether oaths of
office or federal laws were violated through the NSA program.
previous ads and more information on the ACLU's call for an outside counsel are
online at www.aclu.org/spyads