05/23/2006 05:31 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

New NSA Revelations Underscore Urgency of Harman-Conyers LISTEN Act

The latest Seymour Hersh story in the New Yorker is one more reason to support the Harman/Conyers "LISTEN" Act, H.R. 5371, our bill to bring the Bush Administration's NSA surveillance back under the rule of law.

Sy adds several important pieces to the expanding domestic database scandal. First, he confirms that not only was the NSA monitoring domestic calls, but was doing so on a "real time" basis. Second, Hersh finds that the Bush Administration is using a technique known as "chaining" to eavesdrop on U.S. calls without a warrant.

These revelations represent yet another reason to support the Harman/Conyers legislation, which has been endorsed by the ACLU and has 35 co-sponsors in the House. The bill finds that the Authorization to Use Military Force, passed by Congress after 9/11 to allow troops to go into Afghanistan, did not authorize electronic surveillance of Americans; reiterates that FISA and Title III of the criminal code are the exclusive means to conduct electronic surveillance in the U.S. and rebuts the Administration's inherent" Article II power nonsense; and authorizes funds to pay for personnel and technology only if current resources prove to be inadequate to handle the entire NSA program.

We have been jointly pressing for increased oversight of the NSA program since the New York Times disclosure last December. From the outset, Jane said the President was violating the law by conducting warrantless surveillance and by failing to brief the full Intelligence Committee. At my behest, Jane has also asked the Administration to respond to the many questions I have put to the Administration.

We believe it is important that we have a legislative vehicle out there that Members can support, particularly in light of efforts by Senate and House Republicans to ratify the illegal program. Please let others know about this important issue and the necessity that Congress stand up for the rule of law and not buckle under to the Bush Administration's political pressure.