HOLT STATEMENT ON PRESIDENT BUSH'S ADMISSION REGARDING DOMESTIC SPYING BY THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY
December 17, 2005
(Washington, DC.) - Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) today issued the following statement in reaction to President Bush's radio address acknowledging the domestic surveillance activities carried out by the National Security Agency on his orders:
"Today, the President proudly asserted that he authorized the National Security Agency to conduct surveillance of Americans here at home. He says it has been necessary to spy on Americans to protect us all from terrorists. It is open to debate, and Congress must examine, whether this action by the President is outside the statutory powers of the President, and more broadly, whether this meets the American view of the proper role of government. I for one think this is highly improper.
"In defending his actions, President Bush said he regularly briefed Congress on this program. I suppose he means that a very few members of Congress-maybe two, three, or four people-received some notification of this activity. This serves as yet another reminder that it's time to stop regarding notification of a few members of Congress as adequate notification of Congress.
"Whether it is secret prisons, harsh detainee treatment, manipulation of the news in foreign countries, or domestic spying on Americans, if they occurred, telling two, four or eight members of Congress does not constitute adequate consultation, and certainly not meaningful oversight. Members of Congress should not learn about such things first from the daily newspapers. If we are to preserve our democratic system, Congress must reassert its role as overseer of the executive branch."