The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a vote Thursday to decide whether to issue subpoenas for documents and testimony concerning the National Security Agency’s warrant-less wiretapping program. You can read more about the warrant-less wiretapping program here.
The program has been referred to as the “Domestic Spying Program” because it allows wiretaps to be planted without warrants on phone lines of American Citizens.
According to a press release from the American Civil Liberties Union, the director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office had this to say regarding the legislation: “Subpoenaing these documents is the only way to find out exactly what kind of legal ground the president’s warrant-less wiretapping program was built on and how it is structured. With recent revelations that those in the Justice Department threatened to resign over the program, Congress is obligated to demand the road map that led them there. Too many administration officials have been vague and, at times, outright uncooperative in the face of legitimate Congressional requests and panels. It’s time to cut through the stonewalling and get real answers.”
Representative from the ACLU and other civil rights groups recently testified before the Senate panel regarding the program. The groups are requesting that the panel issue subpoenas for a variety of documents concerning the program. The requested documents include: Justice Department and Executive certifications and authorizations for the program; Executive branch memos concerning the program’s current activities along with emails and other documents from the Executive branch that concern the programs legality.
The rights groups have also requested documents concerning any and all agreements made with telecommunications companies that assisted with the warrant-less surveillance program.
The National Security Agency, which administers the program, has claimed in the past that divulging details about it would be a threat to national security. However, the Senate committee seemed quite receptive, during the testimony, to the rights groups claims that the program needs to be more transparent.
The Rights groups have also requested that the Senate panel issue subpoenas for testimony from many high ranking officials regarding the program. The officials include, among others, Vice President Dick Cheney and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
According to the ACLU’s press release Fredrickson also commented that: “A year and a half after the administration’s domestic spying became public, we still know very little about the program’s origins and how it functions. We ask that those in the House and Senate not back down until they receive answers. Americans’ rights and privacy were violated and we need to know why.”
The American Civil Liberties Union