WASHINGTON, July 13 (UPI) -- The American Civil Liberties Union Thursday slammed proposed new legislation to regulate U.S. electronic surveillance operations.
The ACLU said in a statement that it "strongly rebuked" the proposed new legislation offered by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-PA, chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. Senate, that would give the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court "optional" review over the U.S. National Security Agency's controversial program to conduct domestic electronic surveillance on the communications of Americans. The legislation was announced Thursday morning and was drafted in close consultation with the White House.
The ACLU and other organizations have filed challenges to the legality of the NSA program.
"This Specter-Cheney bill is nothing short of a capitulation by Chairman Specter to the White House," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "The 'review' contained in the bill is nothing more than a sham. The president could still choose to ignore the optional court oversight on the program. This new bill would codify the notion that the president is not bound by the laws passed by Congress or the Constitution. It would reward his abuse of power."
"The Senate -- and the entire Congress -- must provide proper oversight over the executive," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "The law has been broken by the president, and instead of demanding answers, the Specter-Cheney bill would sanction his illegal activity. We urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to stand for the rule of law and reject this proposal."