Slaughter Calls for House Hearings on Spying on Americans

Last week, we learned from the New York Times that President George W. Bush signed a presidential order in 2002 allowing the National Security Agency to spy on US citizens without court-approved warrants.

Our law forbids warrantless surveillance of American citizens, and it provides the Government with a set of procedures to follow in emergency situations, when federal agents do not have enough time to get a warrant. So, if the Times report is correct, the Bush government may have acted illegally by not following these procedures.

Moreover, this report raises serious constitutional questions as to whether the President’s order violated the Fourth Amendment and the requirement that the President “shall take Care that Laws be faithfully executed.” (Article II, sec. 3)

Congress has the responsibility to call out the Administration, dig up more facts from this story, and determine whether the Bush Administration did in fact take actions which violated the constitutional and legal parameters for the Executive Branch. My colleagues in the House of Representatives must do their part in holding this Administration accountable if in fact it acted with total disregard of our laws. So, please join me today, and urge Congressman James Sensenbrenner Jr., Chairman of the House Judiciary Comittee, and Congressman Peter Hoekstra, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, to hold hearings demanding answers on Bush’s domestic spying:

This is not a partisan issue. Already, my congressional colleague Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has expressed his concern about this eavesdropping program as being inappropriate. Senator Specter has already indicated that there will be hearings in the Senate early next year and that they will have “a very, very high priority.” The House must take the same actions and conducts its own investigations. So, please sign my petition and urge Reps. Sensenbrenner and Hoekstra to hold a hearing on these allegations as soon as Congress reconvenes early next year:

The constitutional and legal questions by this secret domestic spying strike at the very heart of the foundation of our democratic ideals. These stories of undisclosed domestic spying and wiretaps – approved by the White House and carried out by our top law enforcement agencies without Congressional knowledge or judicial review – force citizens here and abroad to question our nation’s commitment to its own ideals. Unfortunately, we are all too numb to an Administration—which has already sullied our reputation abroad as the torch bearer of democracy, and a free, open, and tolerant nation—by authorizing secret prisons, planting propaganda, and fighting attempts to ban torture. However, this doesn’t mean we stay quiet.

We must act today and use our collective outrage to demand answers. I want to collect thousands of your signatures and deliver them personally to Chairmen Sensenbrenner and Hoekstra after the New Year. So, please sign my petition sign my petition today:

Thank you again for all you do to restore faith in our democracy.

In Solidarity,


Louise M. Slaughter

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