Alito defended government wiretap rights
Reagan-era memo said attorney general should be immune from lawsuits
The Associated Press
Dec. 23, 2005
WASHINGTON – Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito defended the right of government officials to order domestic wiretaps when he worked for the Reagan Justice Department, documents released Friday show.
He advocated a step-by-step approach to strengthening the hand of officials in a 1984 memo to the solicitor general. The strategy is similar to the one that Alito espoused for rolling back abortion rights at the margins.
The release of the memo by the National Archives comes when President Bush is under fire for secretly ordering domestic spying of suspected terrorists without a warrant. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., has promised to question Alito about the administration’s program.
The Associated Press had requested documents related to Alito under the Freedom of Information Act.
The memo dealt with whether government officials should have blanket protection from lawsuits when authorizing wiretaps. “I do not question that the attorney general should have this immunity,” Alito wrote. “But for tactical reasons, I would not raise the issue here.”