ACLU Asks Majority Leader Reid to Allow the Senate to Vote for Fourth Amendment Protections, Cheers Senators Who Take a Stand Against Immunity

December 12, 2007 12:00 am

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Washington, DC — The American Civil Liberties Union is calling on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to allow the Senate to vote for the Judiciary Committee’s FISA bill without letting the Bells off the hook.

“We implore Senator Reid to lead,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Reid has set up a Catch-22 that forces senators to choose either no immunity for the telecoms or minimal Fourth Amendment protections – but not both at the same time. The ACLU is not ready to accept the two current options as the only possibilities. The American people should not have to choose between telecom immunity and warrantless wiretapping.”

Fredrickson explained that Senator Reid employed a little-used Senate rule – Rule Fourteen – to bring up two different FISA bills taken from legislation passed by the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. The first bill, S. 2440, will be Titles 1 and 3 of the intelligence bill and does not include telecom immunity. The second, S. 2441, will be Titles 1 of the judiciary bill and 2 and 3 of the intelligence bill, which does include immunity. She explained that from the ACLU’s perspective, “Another way to think of it: S 2440 is good on immunity and bad on wiretapping while S. 2441 is bad on immunity but good on wiretapping. It looks as though Senator Reid has created two little FISA Frankensteins.”

The ACLU urges senators to vote against the Intelligence Committee bill, anything resembling the Protect America Act or any bill that grants immunity to telecommunications companies that broke the law over the past six years. Today a group of 14 senators urged Senator Reid to take up the Judiciary bill as it stands with no immunity provision. We are also asking senators to participate in the Dodd filibuster measure against any bill that lets the Bells off the hook.

“Senator Reid is forcing senators to trade the Fourth Amendment to avoid immunity or to give immunity in order to protect Fourth Amendment rights. The ACLU, on behalf its members across this country, asks that he bring the Judiciary Committee’s FISA bill to the floor — without immunity for companies that broke the law,” said Fredrickson.

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