Letter

ACLU Letter to the House Regarding Draft FISA Legislation, H.R. 3773

Document Date: March 12, 2008

Re: Discussion Draft of H.R. 3773

Dear Representative,

We are in receipt of the most recent draft of H.R. 3773. While the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is unable to support the legislation in its current form, we applaud significant elements of this new legislative version of a foreign intelligence surveillance law.

We commend the House for refusing to adopt the overreaching FISA Amendments Act, which would have given the executive branch vastly expanded powers to wiretap on US soil and granted retroactive immunity to telecommunication companies that facilitated years of illegal surveillance. In particular, we commend House leadership for its refusal to grant such retroactive immunity and for the inclusion of provisions that would allow courts to hear evidence in the relevant pending cases even in the face of state secrets claims. We also applaud efforts to preserve some judicial oversight over domestic surveillance.

Despite these laudable elements, the ACLU cannot support programs that provide for bulk collection of American communications – and this proposal authorizes just such a program. As the Wall Street Journal reported Monday, wholesale collection of Americans’ information is an ongoing and increasing problem that continues to encroach on our rights. Every time we think we understand the scope of surveillance undertaken by this administration, new facts emerge that show the scope of spying is even broader. We encourage Congress to do extensive oversight to learn how this Administration has violated our rights so we can begin the process of rectifying the many abuses of power that have been committed.

Sincerely,

Caroline Fredrickson
Director, Washington Legislative Office

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