Thursday, January 19, 2006

''Democrats' unofficial wiretap hearings to be carried on CSPAN''

"House Democrats, led by liberal Michigan Congressmen John Conyers, will hold unofficial hearings on the legality of President Bush's warantless wiretap programs Friday, and CSPAN and Pacifica radio will carry the hearings live, RAW STORY can report.

Conyers office said in a release that CNN and ABC radio are also expected to be present at the event. Radio Pacifica affiliates will broadcast the forum beginning at 11:00am EST, and it will be streamed live on the internet at

Democrats are holding the hearings, they say, because a request for hearings from the Republican-led Judiciary Committee have fallen on deaf ears. In the Senate, Republican Judiciary chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) has said he will hold formal hearings to examine the ramifications of the taps.

A spokesman for the Republican-led Judiciary Committee declined to comment; he said that because the House was in recess nothing was currently planned.

At least seven Democratic members are scheduled to attend the hearings: Reps. John Conyers, Jr., Bobby Scott, Chris Van Hollen, Adam Schiff, Maxine Waters, Jerrold Nadler and Maurice Hinchey.

Among the more prominent witnesses include Bruce Fein, an Associate Deputy Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan, and James Bamford, an intelligence expert who has revealed details about the NSA spying project.

Also attending: George Washington Law School Professor Jonathan Turley, the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington Legislative Director Caroline Frederickson, Director of the Center for National Security Studies Kate Martin, and the Truth Project's Richard Hersh.

"Last month all 17 House Judiciary Democrats called on Chairman Sensenbrenner to convene hearings to investigate the President's use of the National Security Agency to conduct surveillance involving U.S. citizens on U.S. soil," Conyers said in a statement. "As our request has since been ignored, it is our job, as Members of Congress, to review the program and consider whether our criminal laws have been violated and our citizen's constitutional rights trampled upon.

He added: "We simply cannot tolerate a situation where the Administration is operating as prosecutor, judge and jury and excluding Congress and the courts from providing any meaningful check or balance to the process."

The hearings are open to the public and will be held Friday, Jan. 20 at 11:00am in room B339 at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington."-RAW STORY.

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