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Hearings Announced: "The Constitution in Crisis"

May 31, 2007

From Subcommittee Chairman Jerrold Nadler:

Chairman Nadler Announces Hearings Series: “The Constitution in Crisis: The State of Civil Liberties in America”

Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee to Explore Administration Programs Threatening Americans’ Liberties;

Kicks Off with June 7 Hearing on NSA Wiretapping Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-08), Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, announced a series of hearings titled “The Constitution in Crisis: The State of Civil Liberties in America.” In these hearings, the Subcommittee will examine the Bush Administration’s policies, actions and programs that threaten Americans’ fundamental constitutional rights and civil liberties and also hear proposals for potential legislative fixes.

The series will begin with a hearing on June 7, 2007, which will examine the National Security Agency’s wiretapping program and the Administration’s proposals for expanding it.

“This Congress must void the blank check the White House has enjoyed for the last six years,” said Rep. Nadler. “The time for real accountability and meaningful oversight is now, and this Subcommittee will fulfill its constitutional duty to protect the fundamental freedoms of all Americans.”

Topics to be covered by the hearings include:

· The National Security Agency’s wiretapping program and proposed expansions;
· The erosion of Habeas Corpus through the Military Commissions Act;
· The sanctioning of torture through the Military Commissions Act and other government policies;
· The practice of “extraordinary rendition,” or government sponsored kidnapping;
· PATRIOT Act threats to privacy rights, including the FBI’s abuses of the National Security Letter authority and intrusions into Americans’ “Freedom to Read”;
· Government surveillance of First Amendment-protected activities; and
· The gutting of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights and Voting Rights Divisions.

“Most importantly, we will carefully examine this White House’s seeming disregard for the Constitution and the rule of law,” added Rep. Nadler. “Secret, warrantless spying, the erosion of habeas corpus, the sanction of torture, and this Administration’s contempt for the other two branches of government – these issues demand close scrutiny and congressional action.”

Rep. Nadler has already introduced a number of important pieces of legislation in the 110th Congress to restore some of the basic civil liberties that the Bush Administration has stripped from the Constitution. Along with Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA-36), Rep. Nadler introduced H.R.1415, the Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007 along with H. R. 1416, the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007. Both bills would fix many of the problems contained in the Military Commissions Act.

What: House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Oversight Hearing on the Constitutional Limitations on Domestic Surveillance

Who: Steven G. Bradbury, Assistant Attorney General, Office of General Counsel

Bruce Fein, former Assistant Deputy Attorney General

Jameel Jaffer, Director, National Security Project, American Civil Liberties Union

Lou Fisher, American Law Division, Library of Congress

When: Thursday, June 7, 2007 — 2:00 p.m.

Where: 2141 Rayburn House Office Building