Press Release: CAIR Files FOIA Request on Secret Wiretaps

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 12/22/05) – A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today announced the filing of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for all government records relating to President Bush’s post-9/11 executive orders authorizing electronic surveillance of Americans and others in the United States without first obtaining court approval, as required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Media reports indicate that in some cases, the secret surveillance program intercepted purely domestic communications, despite White House assurances that at least one end of the intercepted communications was overseas. SEE: “Spying Program Snared U.S. Calls

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) filed the FOIA request with the CIA, the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice, including the FBI.

In the request, CAIR asked for: 1) “Records concerning the ‘authority’ of President Bush to delegate or personally authorize electronic surveillance without obtaining a court order as required by FISA.” and 2) “Any and all lists of natural persons, both American and foreign nationals, who have been or are currently being eavesdropped without proper FISA approval.”

“It is the duty of all those who value the Constitution to state that no one, not even a president, is above the law,” said CAIR National Legal Director Arsalan Iftikhar.

“President Bush’s wiretapping policy is not only an apparent violation of existing law, it also gives carte blanche for spying, without legal oversight, on any American,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. “Such wide-ranging and unrestricted powers are an invitation to abuse of constitutional rights and freedoms, and should be of concern to everyone in a society based on respect for the law.” Awad added that such unrestricted surveillance powers could be expanded and used to spy on those who hold dissenting political views.

CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 31 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: Arsalan Iftikhar, 202-488-8787 or 202-415-0799, E-Mail: arsalan@cair-net.org; CAIR Government Affairs Directory Corey Saylor, 202-646-6039 or 571-278-4658, E-Mail: csaylor@cair-net.org; Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: ihooper@cair-net.org; Rabiah Ahmed, 202-488-8787 or 202-439-1441, E-Mail: rahmed@cair-net.org.