June 27, 2007
WASHINGTON (Wednesday, June 27) – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), in consultation with Ranking Member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), issued subpoenas Wednesday for documents relating to the authorization and legal justification for the Administration's warrantless wiretapping program.
Chairman Leahy issued subpoenas to the Department of Justice, the Office of the White House, the Office of the Vice President and the National Security Council for documents relating to the Committee’s inquiry into the warrantless electronic surveillance program. The subpoenas seek documents related to authorization and reauthorization of the program or programs; the legal analysis or opinions about the surveillance; orders, decisions, or opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) concerning the surveillance; agreements between the Executive Branch and telecommunications or other companies regarding liability for assisting with or participating in the surveillance; and documents concerning the shutting down of an investigation of the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) relating to the surveillance.
“Over the past 18 months, this Committee has made no fewer than nine formal requests to the Department of Justice and to the White House, seeking information and documents about the authorization of and legal justification for this program,” Chairman Leahy wrote in letters accompanying the subpoenas to Bush Administration officials. “All requests have been rebuffed. Our attempts to obtain information through testimony of Administration witnesses have been met with a consistent pattern of evasion and misdirection.”
“There is no legitimate argument for withholding the requested materials from this Committee,” Leahy wrote. “The Administration cannot thwart the Congress’s conduct of its constitutional duties with sweeping assertions of secrecy and privilege. The Committee seeks no intimate operational facts and we are willing to accommodate legitimate redactions of the documents we seek to eliminate reference to these details.”
Last week the Committee, in a bipartisan vote of 13-3, authorized Chairman Leahy to issue subpoenas for documents and information related to the domestic surveillance program. The Committee has requested the legal justification for the program several times since it was first revealed in December 2005. The deadline for providing the Committee the information is July 18.