Bill Would Allow Cases Against Phone Companies Who Aided Bush Administration’s Domestic Spying To Move Forward

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WASHINGTON – A bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate today that would repeal the immunity granted to telecommunications companies under the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) passed last year. By including the immunity provision in the FAA, Congress ensured the dismissal of active court cases pending against companies that aided the Bush administration in its illegal, unconstitutional and warrantless wiretapping program. The bill, the Retroactive Immunity Repeal Act, will be introduced today by Senators Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Russell Feingold (D-WI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

The American Civil Liberties Union has challenged the constitutionality of the FAA in federal court. That lawsuit was dismissed in August on procedural grounds, and the ACLU plans to appeal that dismissal this week.

The following can be attributed to Michael Macleod-Ball, Acting Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“Passing both the FISA Amendments Act last year and the telecom immunity provision within it was a huge blow to Americans’ privacy. The grant of immunity to giant telecommunications companies was a grievous insult to the concept of privacy in America and we welcome the effort to reinstate Americans’ ability to challenge government spying and malfeasance. We urge Congress to repeal the immunity provision of the FISA Amendments Act quickly. Otherwise, Americans may never learn the truth about what the companies and the government did with our private communications.” 

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