01.20.06

Schiff Probes NSA Surveillance Procedures

Washington, D.C. – Earlier today, Congressman Adam Schiff and Judiciary Committee Democrats held a briefing on the  National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance procedures.  On December 16th the New York Times reported that the President secretly authorized the NSA to eavesdrop on Americans without court approval.  The same day, Congressman Schiff sent a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner asking for a full hearing to investigate the charges.  Congressman Schiff subsequently joined all Judiciary Committee Democrats in a similar letter.

Because no hearing was scheduled Members planned today’s briefing as a first step of their constitutionally mandated oversight responsibility.  “Obviously, I would have preferred that the full committee conduct this oversight through an official hearing and in a bipartisan fashion.  The American people are not served when at least half of the elected representatives on the relevant committee are not willing or able to engage in this discussion.  The House of Representatives has once again abdicated its oversight responsibilities,” said Congressman Schiff.

“Members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, share my frustration with learning of this and other executive agency actions through media reports rather than through our constitutionally-mandated oversight responsibilities.”

 “As a Federal Prosecutor, I prosecuted espionage cases and I’m familiar with how the FISA Court operates.  They have a track record of quickly approving government requests, and with the most urgent matters the government can seek post hoc approval.  There appears to be no policy justification for the Administration's actions—what may be illegal is also plainly unnecessary,” said Congressman Schiff. 

Congressman Schiff is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles and the co-founder of the Democratic Study Group on National Security.  He is a member of both the House Judiciary and International Relations committees.  He represents California’s 29th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Alhambra, Altadena, Burbank, East Pasadena, East San Gabriel, Glendale, Monterey Park, Pasadena, San Gabriel, South Pasadena and Temple City.

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