Today, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes announced [PDF] plans for hearings on the NSA spying program. Investigations of this still-shadowy surveillance are long overdue, and we're hopeful that this is only the beginning of vigorous Congressional oversight.
In particular, Reyes' stated intention to dig into the telecommunications companies' role is encouraging. EFF has been fighting hard in the courts to hold AT&T accountable for violating its customers privacy and the law, and Congress must fulfill its duty to help uncover the truth about the telcos' collaboration with the government
But a threat still looms to judicial and Congressional scrutiny of the program. As we've previously reported, the Bush Administration has been pushing legislation that, among other things, appears intended to let the telcos off the hook. Telecommunications carriers' adherence to the law is the biggest practical check that we have against illegal government surveillance, and EFF strongly opposes any legislation that would deprive Americans of the remedies to which they are entitled. It would be especially irresponsible for Congress to pass any legislation before thoroughly investigating the program. (For more criticisms of the proposal, read our testimony [PDF] to the Senate Intelligence Committee.)
Reyes isn't the only representative turning up the heat on the Administration, and that goes to show that your letters and phone calls demanding investigations are getting through. Keep up the pressure -- visit our Action Center and make your voice heard.