ACLU Urges Vote On Senate Judiciary FISA Bill and Rejection of Telecom Immunity
Contact: (202) 675-2312 or media@dcacluorg
The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.
"This past August, Congress rushed through wiretapping legislation that allowed the government to scoop up all of our international communications without any court review, or any finding of wrong-doing. In the next several weeks the Senate is going to make a choice between two bills – the Bush administration’s bill to make this awful law permanent, or a more moderate version that at least attempts to rein in the president’s unfettered power.
"The administration bill basically writes August’s mistake in stone. It does nothing to protect Americans’ communications and violates the Fourth Amendment requirement that courts supervise any spying on American soil.
"The current administration bill is even worse than the 'Protect America Act,' though, in that it gives complete immunity to the telecoms which spied on us after 9/11. The attorney general will be able to single-handedly kill any pending case – and then gag the judge from ever publicly discussing whether the company participated in the illegal program.
"The Senate must reject the administration proposal and insist that:
"The bill sent to the president must not let the telecoms off the hook. We still don’t know what they did. We do know, however, that the companies won’t have any incentive to follow the law in the future if they get away without having to answer to their customers about why they violated the law.
"The bill sent to the president must not allow for massive untargeted dragnets that scoop up all of our international calls and emails. Smart – and constitutional – surveillance is actually targeted at bad guys.
"American communications must be protected by individualized court orders as the Constitution demands.
"In Saturday’s radio address and yesterday’s press conference, President Bush unveiled the fearmongering campaign he’s planning to unleash on Congress – not unlike last July when his push for power and the Protect America Act began. The president seems to be gearing up to launch the same campaign of fear and misinformation he so clearly won in August. This time, Congress must reject the administration’s bag of tricks and stand up for the Constitution."
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For more information on FISA see: www.aclu.org/fisa
Information on the Senate Intelligence Committee Bill:
Section by section :
Information on Telecom Immunity:
Information on the final House Bill [note: does not contain last
minute Holt changes.]
Section by section:
Letter opposing bill: