Response from Senator Feinstein on illegal wiretapping.

Below is the email I received from Senator Feinstein’s office in response to my email encouraging the continued investigation of the illegal wiretapping programs authorized by Mr. Bush. (Better late than never.)

Thank you for writing to me about recent revelations that the United States Government has engaged in domestic electronic eavesdropping without appropriate legal authority. I welcome the opportunity to respond.

On February 6th, the Senate Judiciary Committee held the first of a series of hearings into this matter, at which Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified about the legality of the program. He provided none of the documents the Committee required for proper oversight, and his assurances alone did not allay my concerns. Instead, he propounded a radical legal theory of presidential power largely unrestrained by either Congress or the courts.

I have carefully reviewed the Constitution and the laws relating to this domestic intelligence activity, along with the President’s statements and those of the Attorney General and other Administration officials. I believe that the electronic surveillance program was not conducted in accordance with U.S. law. The program, as described, violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires a court order for surveillance of Americans. Congress has updated FISA many times since 9/11 in order to provide our nation with all the necessary tools to fight terrorism. The Administration has never asked for the authority to conduct this program.

I believe the Administration also violated the National Security Act, which requires all members of the Intelligence Committee to be fully and currently informed of all significant intelligence activities other than covert actions. I am a member of the Intelligence Committee, and yet I was not told about this program until it was made public.

There will be further hearings in the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. Once the facts are clear, we can decide on appropriate corrective action.

Again, thank you for writing. I hope that you will continue to write to me on issues of importance to you. Best regards.

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator