For Immediate Release
Friday, February 14, 2003
Grassley Amendment to Protect Americans' Privacy in Omnibus
WASHINGTON - Sen. Chuck Grassley today said that an amendment that protects
the civil liberties of Americans was included in the Omnibus appropriations
bill that passed both the Senate and House late last night.
"Protecting American's civil liberties while at the same time winning the
war against terrorism has got to be the top priority for the United States.
Congressional oversight of this program will be a must as we proceed in the
war against terror," Grassley said. "The acceptance of this amendment sends
a signal that Congress won't sit on its hands as the TIA program moves forward."
Grassley first made inquiries to the Defense Department Inspector General
in November 2002 about the Total Information Awareness program. Grassley has
expressed concern that TIA personnel had contacted agencies at the Justice
Department to work on possible experimentation with TIA technology in the future.
Grassley's inquiries have led the Pentagon's Inspector General to begin an
audit of the program. The audit will assess whether the proper safeguards are
at work to protect privacy and civil liberties.
"We need to strike a balance between targeting terrorists with everything
we've got and also protecting the rights and freedoms cherished by Americans," Grassley
said. "Military dollars shouldn't be spent on domestic law enforcement."
Grassley has also written U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft asking him to
shed light on the involvement between the Justice Department and the Total
Information Awareness program. Grassley has asked for a complete accounting
of the Justice Department and FBI's actions regarding TIA as well as a draft
Memorandum of Understanding between the TIA program and the Justice Department.