Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Breaking news: Sen. Rockefeller's Statement on New Intelligence Subcommittee

Here's a press release from the office of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, whose motion to conduct hearings into the warrantless NSA wiretap program was rejected on a party-line, closed-door vote yesterday:

March 8, 2006

Statement from Senator Rockefeller on the Creation of a Senate Intelligence subcommittee to provide Oversight of NSA program

“At the end of the day, our goal should be to have the most effective and legally sound counterterrorism programs possible.

“A thorough review by the full committee would have given the American people much more confidence in achieving that goal, and I will continue to fight for the full committee to have access to this program.

“In the meantime, the creation of a subcommittee to conduct greater oversight is a step in the right direction.

“I have appointed Senators Levin and Feinstein to serve with me on the panel. As the most senior Democratic members of the Committee, I am confident that they will bring enormous expertise in intelligence matters, as well as a commitment to thoroughly understanding the program and its implications.

“Senator Levin brings a depth of experience on national defense programs through the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Feinstein brings a critical understanding of judicial review and constitutional protections.

“Now, the big test will be whether the seven member subcommittee will receive sufficient information to fully scrutinize the operations of the program and answer the critical legal and constitutional questions before them.

“In addition to White House led briefings, I strongly believe that the subcommittee immediately should have access to the answers of the 450 questions that I submitted to the NSA last week. This information will help to guide all members of the subcommittee about the extent of the program and the critical issues at stake. I also hope the subcommittee members can spend sufficient time at the NSA reviewing the operation of the program and getting their own questions answered.

“I continue to believe that legislating without knowing all the facts could do more harm than good. I’m hopeful that all members of this new panel will share the same goal of informing legislative debate before taking steps to strengthen the program for the future.”


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