Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bipartisan Committee Denounces Illegal Spying Program

WASHINGTON - JULY 25 - Today a bipartisan coalition of political leaders, policy experts, and legal scholars condemned the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program as illegal, and called on Congress to complete its investigation of the program before considering any changes to the law governing electronic surveillance. The condemnation came in a statement issued by the Constitution Project's Liberty and Security Committee. Signers of the statement include: David Keene, Chairman of the American Conservative Union; Walter Cronkite, former Managing Editor of CBS Evening News; Mickey Edwards, former member of Congress (R-OK) and Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee; Harold Koh, Dean of Yale Law School and former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor; John Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress and former White House Chief of Staff; and William S. Sessions, former federal judge and Director of the FBI under Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton.

"The NSA's warrantless surveillance program has stood for too long as an affront to America's rule of law," said David Keene, a co-chair of the Constitution Project's Liberty and Security Committee. "The American people deserve to know why and to what extent the NSA has been tapping Americans' phones without a warrant."

In its "Statement on the National Security Agency's Domestic Surveillance Program," the Liberty and Security Committee asserted that the spying program "upends separate, balanced powers by thwarting the will of Congress and preventing any opportunity for judicial review." The statement was issued one week after the passage of a deadline for the White House and Department of Justice to comply with subpoenas issued by the Senate Judiciary Committee seeking production of documents about the NSA's domestic surveillance program. One day before the arrival of the deadline the White House sought and received an extension from the Committee. "Congress should be applauded for taking steps to uncover the truth about the spying program," said Sharon Bradford Franklin, senior counsel at the Constitution Project. "That national political and policy leaders from across the political spectrum have come together to denounce this illegal program speaks volumes. Congress must complete its investigation before considering any changes to the law governing electronic surveillance."


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