WASHINGTON - AUGUST 8 - The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:
"This past weekend, Congress
capitulated to the Bush administration and gave it the authority to conduct
warrantless dragnets of American's international phone calls and emails. And did the administration thank
Congress? No. It called for more
authority and for a hand out to the telecommunications companies that turned
over our records and calls in the absence of a warrant, which they knew was
"Just whom did Congress
give this unfettered power to? The
woes of the Alberto Gonzales Justice Department are well known, but the National
Security Agency is no better. Last
May, The Baltimore Sun reported that an internal management review at the NSA
found the agency 'lacks vision and is unable to set objectives and meet them,'
and just last week Newsweek reported the NSA so poorly managed it can't even
keep the lights on.
"Where will Congress go from here? More unfettered power
for an administration that has no respect for the privacy of the citizenry that
elected it? A get out of jail free
card for the companies that facilitated wiretapping, that until Sunday, was a
"Congress was meant to be
an independent branch of government.
Democratic leaders should step up and assert their prerogative to get to
the bottom of what the administration has been doing with our private
information for the past six years. Congress has still not received basic
answers about how intelligence on American soil works or how many of us have had
our rights violated. Congress must
also rein in the unconstitutional authority it granted the administration this
past weekend. Democrats were
elected to stop a president who is out of control – not grease the wheels for
further abuse. Hopefully it won't
take the full six months to pass legislation that will protect American
communications. With any luck,
congressional leadership will grow a spine before then."