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Guild Strongly Opposes The Specter-Cheney NSABill



The National Lawyers Guild strongly opposes the new legislation offered by the Senate Intelligence Committee, a result of negotiation by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and the White House. The proposed bill would allow the President to unilaterally compel transfer of all pending lawsuits challenging the legality of the NSA’s warrant-less surveillance program to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Challenges to the NSA Program have been filed by NLG lawyers, one in New York in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights, the other in Portland, Oregon on behalf of an Islamic charity and its attorneys. Similar challenges have been brought in Detroit by the ACLU in Detroit and in San Francisco by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

“The Specter-Cheney Bill is not a compromise- the administration is not obliged to give up anything while the American people sacrifice meaningful judicial review of an illegal program” said NLG attorney Ashlee Albies.

The bill would transfer all pending challenges to the program to a secret court that only hears argument from one side—the government. It would also drastically reduce judicial and Congressional oversight of the NSA’s warrant-less domestic spying, allowing the Executive Branch to eavesdrop on Americans without restraint. This program is illegal under existing laws and violates the 4th Amendment warrant and probable cause requirements.

“Congress should not reward this Administration’s violations of existing law by condoning this program and allowing it to continue” said Steven Goldberg, an NLG attorney working on the Portland case. “Attorney General Alberto Gonzales recently acknowledged the President blocked an Office of Professional Responsibility investigation of the program, and now this administration is trying to block any meaningful judicial review of the program.”

The NLG urges people to take action. Please contact your senators and let them know you do not support this bill. Contact your local newspapers and express your opposition to the gutting of the 4th Amendment.

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