WASHINGTON, DC - March 4 - With a House vote on domestic spy legislation rumored to
occur within days, there are reports of a plan to split the two titles of the
terrible bill passed by the Senate that gutted the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act (FISA). The Senate bill contains almost no Fourth Amendment
protections in its Title I, and its Title II contains immunity for
telecommunications companies that illegally aided the presidentís warrantlesss
wiretapping program. The American Civil Liberties Union urges Congress to not
rubberstamp the presidentís plan to circumvent the Constitution.
The following can be attributed ACLU lobbyist Michelle Richardson:
"We are deeply concerned about the proposal to break the Senate bill into two
separate measures. If the majority uses bifurcation to leverage substantial
privacy protections for Americans on wiretapping and adopts changes that allow
the lawsuits to proceed, thatís a step in the right direction. However, if this
split merely offers members of Congress the chance to vote on a variation of the
Senateís surveillance scheme and full immunity for the telecommunications
industry, then itís just a rubberstamp of the presidentís scheme. Congress' job
is to protect the civil liberties of individual Americans and to make sure those
who have broken the law are held accountable.
"The House held its ground two weeks ago, and polling shows the American
public is clearly against giving the telecommunications firms a
get-out-of-jail-free card. Congress should stay strong and not give into the
presidentís power grab. Otherwise, the courageous act of letting the Protect
America Act expire will be squandered.
"We urge Congress to pass legislation that will protect our civil liberties
and hold telecommunication companies responsible. The president illegally
wiretapped Americans for years without telling Congress. Congress canít expect
to conduct meaningful oversight in the future if they allow the executive to
walk all over them now."
To see polling on FISA and Telecom Immunity go to
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