The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Mandy Simon, (202) 675-2312;  

Reporters' Phone Records Tracked by CIA in May 2006

ACLU Slams Agency for Infringing on First and Fourth Amendment Rights


ABC News revealed that its reporters' phone calls are being tracked by the CIA in an effort to reveal confidential sources. In response, the American Civil Liberties Union condemned the CIA's actions and called on Congress to increase oversight and accountability over the intelligence community.

"Reporters have every right to be alarmed," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "There are many ways for the government to legally get reporters' records, even if they have done nothing wrong. Through criminal provisions, the PATRIOT Act and the newly-expanded FISA law, communication records are fair game. Unfortunately for reporters, changing cell phones won't make a difference - only changing the law will."

Last month, the ACLU made recommendations to the new administration regarding surveillance laws. These include issuing an executive order recognizing the president's obligation to comply with FISA and other statutes, prohibiting the NSA from collecting the communications, domestic or international, of U.S. citizens and residents, and issuing an executive order prohibiting the new FISA powers from being used to conduct bulk collection.

The ACLU is also recommending that Congress continue its work on a strong, bipartisan bill designed to protect reporters and the public they serve from this type of damaging surveillance.

"The CIA's work should not include rooting out confidential sources to intimidate both reporters and would-be whistleblowers," continued Fredrickson. "Given this and earlier reports of NSA employees eavesdropping on phone calls made by US troops and civilians overseas, the time for stricter oversight is yesterday. Changes must be made to the PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act to bring both laws back in line with the Constitution. Without the proper safeguards, domestic surveillance powers will be abused. The 111th Congress should not forget the Church Committee's work to reveal abuses of the FBI's COINTELPRO program and the surveillance of peaceful leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. It's clear that an outside check is needed to ensure Americans' privacy rights aren't being systemically dismantled."

To read the ACLU's recommendations to the new administration, go to:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(212) 549-2666