Wednesday, June 21, 2006
House Judiciary Comittee Demands NSA Wiretapping Records
The resolution, which passed on a voice vote, must be approved by the full House of Representatives before it is sent to the Bush administration. However, the administration would not be required to comply because a resolution does not carry the force of law.
But it is a step by House lawmakers to investigate a USA Today report that telephone companies turned over millions of call records without a court warrant to the National Security Agency to help track terrorist plots.
The Bush administration has not confirmed the report, which if true would indicate that a controversial program that monitors international phone calls without a warrant is much broader than previously known.
The measure, introduced by Florida Democratic Rep. Robert Wexler (news, bio, voting record), would direct and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to turn over all documents related to the program. The committee rejected another proposal that would have asked for information about an aborted internal Justice Department investigation of the program.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is also pressing for more details of the program and is trying to get Gonzales to testify about it at a hearing.
Separate from congressional action, some 20 class action lawsuits have been filed against Verizon Communications, AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp about the call records. Five other lawsuits are pending against the Justice Department related to the surveillance program.
On Monday, the Justice Department asked a court to consolidate all of the lawsuits into a single proceeding in the Washington, D.C. federal court.