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ACLU SUPPORTS REAUTHORIZATION OF INDEPENDENT COUNSEL
For IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 1993
The American Civil Liberties Union today called on Congress to permanently
reauthorize the independent counsel statute.
In a statement submitted to the Subcommittee on Administrative Law and
Governmental Relations of the House Judiciary Committee, the ACLU
supported the Independent Counsel Reauthorization Act of 1993, but said
the subcommittee should not limit the law's life to 5 years.
Kate Martin, Director of the ACLU's Center for National Security Studies,
called "the independent counsel an essential tool to protect against
abuses of power by government officials, especially in the area of
Martin noted that the ACLU approaches the Independent Counsel statute with
a set of separate and potentially conflicting concerns. "The ACLU is
committed to protecting the constitutional rights of criminal defendants,"
she said. "But at the same time, we believe that government officials must
be held accountable for breaking the law, especially when violations
involve secret government operations conducted in the name of national
For example, in the Iran-Contra affair, the ACLU urged the appointment of
an independent counsel. Later, the ACLU filed amicus curiae briefs on
behalf of Iran-Contra defendants Oliver North and John Poindexter urging
that their convictions be overturned because their Fifth Amendment rights
against self-incrimination were violated.
"The independent counsel statute is particularly necessary to investigate
alleged crimes by members of the intelligence community, such as lying to
Congress or to government investigators," Martin said. "Such abuses of
government power threaten democratic government because they have the
effect of depriving the Congress and the public of their constitutionally
prescribed role in making decisions."
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