Washington, DC – After proposals to alter portions of a surveillance bill were released by the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, the American Civil Liberties Union once again urged meaningful constitutional protections be added to the legislation. The FISA Amendments Act seeks to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and was written in response to the so-called Protect America Act that was rushed through Congress in August. The bill as drafted by the Senate Intelligence Committee includes immunity for the telecommunications companies for their role in the administration’s domestic spying program. The Judiciary Committee is expecting to take up that provision next week.
The following can be contributed to Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:
“Though there has been progress, major changes must still be made before this bill meets the requirements of the Fourth Amendment. We’re encouraged by the fact that the Senate Judiciary Committee is tackling the important issues in this legislation unlike their colleagues on the Intelligence Committee.
“However, the language released yesterday still allows the government to spy on Americans without a warrant, allows massive collection of private communications without any prior court review and allows a secret court to draft secret surveillance procedures. Senators have the opportunity to do more to bring government surveillance in line with the Constitution.
“As deliberations continue next week, the Judiciary Committee must not allow telecom immunity to be a part of the final bill. Stopping this crucial and historical litigation in its tracks will mean that we will never know the facts about the warrantless wiretapping program. The cases brought against the telecoms are legitimate and deserve to have a full and public airing. Americans deserve their day in court.”
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