ACLU Refutes President’s Claims on FISA, Telecom Immunity

February 28, 2008 12:00 am

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Washington, DC – President Bush spoke once again today on the House’s refusal to pass a Senate-approved bill updating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). He also, once again, pleaded for retroactive and prospective immunity for the telecommunications companies who aided in his warrantless wiretapping program, claiming that the suits brought against them were a “financial gravy train” for attorneys.

The following can be attributed to Timothy Sparapani, Senior Legislative Counsel for the ACLU:

“Contrary to the president’s false claim that those suing the telecoms are doing so because of a ‘financial gravy train,” those who are seeking justice against the companies that sold out their privacy are not in it for the money. This is about the rule of law, and about insisting that corporations not be treated as above the law. You follow the rules, you don’t get sued. It’s as simple as that. Americans deserve their day in court.

“As for getting the help of these companies in the future, the president conveniently fails to mention that the companies will have immunity if they follow the law – namely FISA. For years, the telephone companies knowingly violated that law and should be held accountable. Because the administration does not want this lawlessness aired publicly, Bush is trying to prevent the courts from doing their job and is now goading Congress to bait them into aiding his administration’s cover-up. A full and public airing of the facts is necessary and overdue. The bottom line in all of these cases is that these giant companies must be held accountable for violating the law and dissuaded from violating the law in the future.”

The following can be attributed Michelle Richardson, Legislative Consultant for the American Civil Liberties Union:

“The president continues to misrepresent the situation with FISA. Fear mongering and making unsubstantiated claims of lost intelligence does not help Congress reach a resolution. President Bush’s concerns can only be taken as seriously as his actions. Let’s not forget the facts – the Protect America Act expired because he flatly refused to sign a second extension. House Democrats should be lauded for standing strong on their principles and supporting the Constitution. The president can’t have it both ways. He can’t dig his heels in and then complain that nothing is moving. The president will have to lie in the bed he made while he waits for Congress to finish its job.”

To read more about the ACLU’s work on FISA, go to:

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