Monday, November 27, 2006

A Democratic Leader

Following requests for an investigation of the National Security Agency's (NSA) warrantless surveillance program from Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and other House members, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Glenn A. Fine today informed Hinchey and Lofgren that his office has opened a review of the agency's involvement with the program. Hinchey and Lofgren have led the call for nearly a year for DOJ officials to examine the NSA warrantless surveillance program with Lofgren pushing for Fine to investigate the matter and Hinchey pursuing a probe through the agency's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).

Congressman Hinchey said:

"After trying for nearly a year to get DOJ to conduct an investigation of the NSA's warrantless spy program, I am very pleased to learn that the agency's Inspector General is finally opening an investigation that we were made to believe would never happen. While I'm glad that the White House finally relented and granted additional clearances for DOJ officials to conduct an investigation, I can't help but be skeptical about the timing. I wonder whether this reversal is only coming now after the election as an attempt to appease Democrats in Congress who have been critical of the NSA program and will soon be in control and armed with subpoena power. While it is important to learn how DOJ officials have handled the NSA program and determine whether any information gathered from the program such as phone numbers has been used inappropriately, we need Inspector General Fine to expand his probe to examine how the warrantless spy program was born, how it evolved, and what laws may have been violated by administration officials as they implemented the program."

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