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Homeland Security Members Question Legality of Newly Reported NSA Domestic Monitoring Program

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment Subcommittee, today offered the following statements on new reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) is secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans:

“I am appalled to learn through press reports, instead of a direct communication to Congress from the intelligence community, that the NSA has been collecting the personal phone records of Americans,” said Rep. Thompson. “As with the Dubai port issue, Congress should have been informed well before the story hit the newsstands. We here in Congress must take action to protect the privacy of all Americans. We cannot continue to give the Bush Administration a free pass to spy on Americans without cause under the guise of national security.”

“The Bush Administration has stonewalled Congress when we attempted to discharge our obligation to provide oversight of these NSA surveillance programs. Now we learn from the press that the federal government is keeping track of every phone call made by every American,” said Rep. Lofgren. “This is a massive invasion of privacy and it is hard to imagine how this massive database would even be useful in the fight against Osama Bin Laden, who is still at large. Further, when the Attorney General was forced to testify before the House Judiciary Committee a few weeks ago, he misled the Committee about the existence of the program. The Bush administration apparently believes that they are above the law and that they are not accountable to either the Courts or to the Congress.”

In light of this new information, Rep. Lofgren is spearheading an effort to send a second letter to President Bush signed by Members of Congress renewing calls for a Special Counsel to be appointed to investigate the NSA surveillance activity.

Please contact Dena Graziano or Todd Levett at (202) 226-2616.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS)

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson

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