This weekend, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and Cooley Law School will present two town hall meetings entitled “Spying, Secrecy and Presidential Powers” with John W. Dean, former Legal Counsel to President Nixon, as he discusses the NSA’s spying program and what it means to anyone who uses a phone.

The special town halls, which take place on Saturday, June 10, 2006 in Grand Rapids and Sunday, June 11, 2006 in Ann Arbor, come just days before oral arguments are heard in the ACLU's lawsuit to stop the illegal spying of the National Security Agency, filed on January 17, 2006 in Detroit.

“It is a sad day when we have to remind ourselves about the abuses of power perpetuated by the Nixon Administration in Watergate. Fortunately, one of his key officials was willing to be courageous and show the greatest honor to our country by not following a President who flaunted the Constitution. We are very fortunate to be able to tap the expertise of John Dean especially during this latest government assault on our civil rights and civil liberties,” said Kary L. Moss, Executive Director of ACLU of Michigan.

“During the Nixon years we wrote the book on what not to do to protect the rights and liberties of Americans,” said John W. Dean. “It seems Bush and Cheney found a copy of an old Nixon playbook in the basement of the White House, and not only are they running the same plays, they are adding news ones.”

Revelations about warrantless spying on Americans by the National Security Agency have sparked a nationwide controversy and sharp questions from lawmakers across the spectrum. After the USA Today reported that phone companies including AT&T and Verizon have been turning over customer call records to the government without a court order, ACLU affiliates across the nation filed complaints with state Public Utilities Commissions demanding investigations into whether local telecommunications companies allowed the NSA to spy on their customers.

Joining the discussion in Grand Rapids will be Michael J. Steinberg, ACLU of Michigan Legal director and co-counsel in ACLU v NSA. In Ann Arbor, James Bamford, NSA expert and plaintiff in ACLU v NSA; Nazih Hassan, CAIR-MI representative and plaintiff in ACLU v NSA; and Ann Beeson, lead attorney in ACLU v NSA, will also speak.

The town halls are co-sponsored by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Council on American Islamic Relations - Michigan, Freethought Association of West Michigan, Grand Rapids Community Media Center, Michigan Peaceworks, Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, University of Michigan Law School and Women Progressive Activists.