Saperstein: Only through such oversight is our country able to gather the information that is vital to our national security while remaining faithful to the values that are at the core of what it means to be American – including the protection of civil liberties and opposition to unchecked government power.
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Washington, D.C.January 31, 2008 - In light of Congress’ decision to extend the warrantless wiretapping provisions of the Protect America Act for 15 days to give more time for debate about their future, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
“Over the new two weeks, as it considers the future of warrantless wiretapping provisions in the Protect America Act, Congress will make important decisions regarding our country’s commitment to civil liberties. President Bush has argued that the ability to wiretap without judicial oversight is central to meeting the terrorist threats to our nation. We understand fully the necessity of recalibrating the balance between civil liberties and national security in a post September 11th world. Yet as Americans, and as Jews we remain committed to protecting the freedoms and values which have allowed liberty to thrive in America.
Specifically, we must protect the checks and balances that were key to the creation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court. Only through such oversight is our government able to gather the information that is vital to our national security while remaining faithful to the values that are at the core of what it means to be American – including the protection of civil liberties and opposition to unchecked government power.
For the past six months we have spoken out several times against these warrantless wiretapping provisions. As Jews, we know too well the dangers of unchecked government action. While we remain committed to providing law enforcement with the tools necessary to combat terrorism at home and abroad, we remain equally committed to preserving the principles and ideals that the terrorists so want to destroy.”