here are many unanswered questions about the legality of what Bush is doing with regard to domestic spying. There was a case as reported in the NY Times in 1982 where the NSA spyed on a muslim-american doctor and the case was upheld by an appeals court. Smitty in the comments to my Act For Change petition post graciously pointed this out to me. Many things have changed and the FISA act has been ammended several times since then. I would also note that lawmakers on both sides of the isle are wanting to know what is going on with this issue also. In this light I support Howard Dean's effort to gain information under the FOIA. Join me and Howard Dean in requesting documents that bring all this out in the open. - fc
Make Your Freedom of Information Act Request
George Bush is using the National Security Agency to conduct surveillance on American citizens without the consent of any court. After initially refusing to confirm the story, the President has admitted to personally overseeing this domestic spying program for years.
These actions are explicitly against the law. But the administration says that other laws somehow allow for this unprecedented use of a foreign intelligence agency to spy on Americans right here in the United States. According to reports, political appointees in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel wrote still-classified legal opinions laying out the supposed justification for this program.
Governor Howard Dean is filing a formal demand that they release these documents. You can add your name to a Freedom of Information Act request below.
Ms. Elizabeth Farris
Office of Legal Counsel
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530-2038
Re: Freedom of Information Act Request
Dear Ms. Farris:
This letter constitutes a request under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. §552 (“FOIA”), and is submitted by the undersigned individuals who are concerned about the Bush Administration’s reported decision to undertake a massive program of spying on American citizens in apparent violation of the law and the Constitution.
President Bush stated on December 19 that his legal authority to have the National Security Agency conduct such spying derives from his inherent constitutional powers and from the congressional authorization for the use of military force in Afghanistan. Of course, these assertions made no sense, in view of the express statutory provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, 50 U.S.C. §§1801 et seq. that flatly prohibit any such spying without a court order. It is the duty of your Office to advise the President on precisely such questions relating to his constitutional and statutory authority. The American people certainly have a right to know whether the President has knowingly acted in blatant violation of the law or believed he was acting within the law based on advice of your office.
• We therefore request all documents in the possession, custody or control of the Office of Legal Counsel, prepared on or after January 20, 2001, referring, relating to or discussing the authority of the President of the United States to authorize any agency of the U.S. Government, including but not limited to the National Security Agency, to conduct electronic surveillance of a United States person, as defined in FISA, 50 U.S.C. §1801(i), or where there is a substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of a communication to which such a United States person is a party, without obtaining a court order as required by FISA.
We urge you, in considering this request, to forego invoking Exemption 5 to FOIA allowing the government to withhold documents based on deliberative process or attorney client privilege. In these exceptional circumstances, where the President of the United States may have acted in gross disregard of the law and the Constitution, the stakes for the American people are too high for the Bush Administration and the Department of Justice to hide behind legal privileges as an excuse for withholding these documents.
The undersigned requestors fall in the category of “other requestors” for purposes of FOIA and the Department’s FOIA fee regulations. On behalf of the undersigned requestors, the Democratic National Committee will pay any fees for searching or copying the requested records.
We look forward to your response within twenty (20) working days as the law requires. If you have any questions or need any further information concerning this request, please contact the first signatory below, Governor Howard Dean. Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.
Governor Howard Dean
430 South Capitol Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
FOIA Request : pdf