ACLU Disappointed in Senate Intel Committee Vote on FISA, Wyden/Feingold Amendments Slightly Improve Bad Bill
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Washington, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union is mystified that the Senate Select Intelligence Committee would pass a FISA bill, drafted with heavy input from the Bush administration, which does not protect Americans from intrusive domestic spying and creates a path to immunity for telecommunications executives. However, a small improvement was made as Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI) were successful in including the addition of a requirement that the government get a warrant when it targets an American abroad (such as a missionary, business person or soldier). Now the bill moves to the Senate Judiciary committee.
Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office said, "Congress bowed to the fear-mongering of the administration, yet again. Democrats should not capitulate to the administration. Letting the administration dictate the terms of this legislation once more will only doom us to repeat the disaster of the Protect America Act."
The ACLU will continue to oppose any immunity deal – whether for telecom executives or for administration officials. "The administration is trying to cover its tracks. A dribble of documents provided to Congress is a case of too little, too late," said ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Timothy Sparapani.
"The ACLU will be working to oppose the Senate legislation unless it is redrafted to include individual warrants for when the government spies on Americans," said Fredrickson. "Being constitutional is like being pregnant – either you are or you aren’t. And this bill isn’t. "
The public agrees with us: a new poll from the Mellman group found 61 percent of Americans in favor of requiring the government to get a warrant from a court before wiretapping conversations U.S. citizens have with people in other countries, and just 35 percent supported warrantless wiretaps.
Pollster Mark Mellman said, "Support for this constitutional right is both deep and wide, cutting across demographic subgroups." Seventy-four percent of Democrats, 60 percent of independents and even 46 percent of Republicans oppose tapping Americans without a warrant.
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To read the poll from the Mellman Group, go to: