For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Mandy Simon, (202) 675-2312;

ACLU Testifies Before House About Excessive Executive Branch Power and Other Civil Liberties Issues Facing Incoming Congress

Group Urges Renewed Congressional Oversight to Rein in Abuse

American Civil Liberties Union will testify today before a House
Judiciary subcommittee that the executive branch of the U.S. government
has obtained dangerously broad powers. Laura W. Murphy, Director of the
ACLU Washington Legislative Office, will also offer a preview of other
big issues likely to be faced by the new Congress involving civil
liberties and national security.

"From the Bush
administration's use of warrantless wiretapping to the Obama
administration's targeted killing program, the power claimed by the
executive branch has grown exponentially over the last 10 years," said
Murphy. "To realign our system of checks and balances, Congress must
continue to forcefully reassert its oversight duty to ensure that the
executive branch does not continue to expand its powers without regard
for Americans' basic liberties. We should not have to choose between our
constitutional rights and our security."

The House
Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil
Liberties will hear testimony from Murphy on the expansion of executive
branch power and how issues like the Patriot Act, warrantless
wiretapping and the misuse of the "state secrets" privilege have altered
the country's system of checks and balances. The hearingis also
expected to feature testimony from Thomas R. Pickering, the
Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Bruce Fein, a former
Justice Department official and Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army.

Murphy's testimony
will also cover a proposed new Authorization of Military Force, the
renewal of Patriot Act provisions, the upcoming renewal of the FISA
Amendments Act (FAA) and the administration's stated intent to expand
the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). The FAA,
passed in 2008, gives the executive branch virtually unchecked power to
collect Americans' international e-mails and telephone calls in dragnet
fashion, without a warrant and without suspicion of wrongdoing, andCALEA
compels telecommunications and broadband companies to ensure their
services are wiretap-ready.The ACLU is asking that Congress vigorously
question each of these proposals and whether its objectives can be
accomplished using already existing authority.

"With as much
power as we have ceded to the government, the prospect of ceding even
more should be questioned by all, whether Democrat or Republican,
conservative or liberal," said Murphy in her testimony. "Protecting the
Constitution is not a partisan issue."

The ACLU's testimony can be found here:


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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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