Bill Introduced To Examine National Security Policies

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Mandy Simon, (202) 675-2312; media@dcaclu.org

Bill Introduced To Examine National Security Policies

Legislation Would Create Special Committee To Investigate Torture, Wiretapping And Other Practices

WASHINGTON -
A
bill introduced in the House of Representatives today would create a
congressional committee to examine national security policies including
those related to torture, detention and surveillance. The Select
Committee on National Security and Civil Liberties Act of 2009,
introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Judiciary Chairman John
Conyers (D-MI) and Harold Wexler (D-FL), would study the development,
implementation and effectiveness of past and present U.S. government
practices.
 
“The
establishment of this committee would be a significant and welcome step
toward open government and would help to restore Americans’ faith in
Congress,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the American Civil
Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office. “It is vital that
Congress play an active role in uncovering the truth about our
government’s failed policies and chart the course for legislative
reform to prevent their reoccurrence.”
 
The
creation of a select committee is a necessary step in reaffirming the
rule of law and, if created and run properly, could answer several
critical questions about the efficacy of current and past national
security policies and the impact they have had on innocent people.
While prior Congresses have repeatedly amended national security laws
in a piecemeal fashion, a holistic and top-to-bottom review of the
interconnectedness of these laws is important for answering critical
questions about their efficiency, effectiveness and improper use.
 
“For
years, our system of checks and balances has been off kilter,” added
Fredrickson. “It’s time to realign them. After years of submitting to
an aggressive executive branch, Congress has the obligation to serve as
a check on the other two branches, and must reassert its authority. If
Congress is truly committed to restoring American values of justice, it
should pass this bill without delay so the special committee can begin
its work.”
 
The
ACLU is also urging the Department of Justice to appoint an independent
prosecutor to investigate torture crimes. The select committee should
avoid granting any immunity that could thwart the prosecutor’s work.
 
“Torture
is a crime, and no one is above the law,” added Fredrickson. “There is
more than enough evidence in the public domain to warrant a criminal
investigation.”

 

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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