Victory for Civil Liberties

December 17, 2007 12:00 am

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Domestic Spy Vote Delayed Until After Holidays


Washington, D.C. – In a clear victory for civil libertarians, the debate over domestic spying is delayed until after the holiday recess. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced the delay tonight on the floor of the U.S. Senate after Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) led an effort to keep immunity for telecommunications companies out of Senate legislation.

The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington Legislative Office of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“In what is a welcome holiday gift for the American people, the Senate held a serious debate over the domestic spying issue. In hours of floor action led by Senator Dodd and joined by Senator Feingold, Senator Cardin and others, the U.S. Senate saw a true civil liberties mini-filibuster over the privacy rights of Americans. Dodd and friends proved they intended to block action until long after the presents were opened. After hours of serious debate and procedural votes, Senator Reid decided to delay the FISA vote until after the holidays. The ACLU lauds Senators Dodd and Feingold for their leadership during the FISA debate.

“We hope that Senators will go home and talk to their constituents about domestic spying. Senators will learn that the American people want to be both safe and free. Senators will learn that the American people do not want the telecommunications companies to be above the law, and that any law breakers should be held responsible. And we hope that Americans deserve their day in court in lawsuits against the telecommunications companies.

“The ACLU wants to thank Senator Dodd and all of the senators who joined the effort to protect civil liberties. Senator Dodd was joined by nine other senators who voted in a midday procedural vote and 15 Senators who signed a letter asking for the Judiciary Committee’s bill to be given preference over the Intelligence Committee’s bill.

“It was two years ago when the story broke in the New York Times about this program. And yet, now the Democratic-led Congress was about to legalize spying without warrants. Senator Dodd and Senator Feingold and the other champions of civil liberties prevented the Senate from making a serious mistake. The ACLU will continue to work to build privacy protections into the bills before the Senate, and we will make sure that the telecom companies are not given a get-out-of-jail-free card by the Senate.”

For more information about FISA and telecom immunity, go to:

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