Friday, December 16, 2005

Statement by Rep. Miller


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Rep. George Miller (D-CA) said today it was imperative for a federal special counsel to be appointed immediately to investigate allegations that the Bush Administration secretly authorized and conducted domestic spying without court orders beginning in 2002.

The New York Times reported today that the President secretly signed an executive order in 2002 to allow the National Security Agency to conduct secret surveillance within the United States on American citizens and others without first obtaining a court order or presenting evidence to justify the surveillance. The executive order was signed even after Congress had approved the controversial Patriot Act, which greatly expanded the government's power to conduct surveillance within the United States. The secret executive order appears to have allowed even greater domestic surveillance than Congress approved.

"I am deeply troubled that the President of the United States may have secretly ordered his intelligence agents to spy on Americans without obtaining court orders," said Miller, Chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee. "Congress had already broadened the powers of the Administration to fight terrorism through the gathering of intelligence, but now it is alleged that the President went even further and secretly ordered the NSA to conduct domestic spying in a manner that may be both unconstitutional and illegal.

"Because the United States Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, would have been intimately involved with drafting this covert policy in his former role as White House Counsel, I do not believe he can be truly impartial in investigating this matter. The Attorney General should recuse himself from the case and immediately appoint a special counsel to fully determine the truth," Miller said. "Congress and the American people need to know whether laws were broken, and if so who was responsible for it.

"Fighting terrorists is essential," Miller added. "No one disagrees with that. But allowing anyone to eviscerate America's freedoms and liberties undermines our security and greatness as a nation. In the battle against international terrorism, America has faced a terrifying and deadly enemy, but it has also suffered a great loss in its stature as a result of the use of torture and degrading treatment against foreign prisoners and the use of unapproved espionage. We must not lose ourselves as a nation as we fight to protect ourselves."