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National Lawyers Guild Calls on Senate to Vote 'No' on Electronic Surveillance Bill, H.R. 6304

June 24, 2008
12:05 PM

CONTACT: National Lawyers Guild (NLG)
Marjorie Cohn, NLG President,; 619-374-6923
Heidi Boghosian, NLG Executive Director,; 212-679-5100 x11,

National Lawyers Guild Calls on Senate to Vote 'No' on Electronic Surveillance Bill, H.R. 6304
NEW YORK - June 24 - The National Lawyers Guild condemns the passage by the House of Representatives of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”) bill, H.R. 6304, and calls upon the Senate to stand up for the Fourth Amendment and vote “No” when the measure comes before that body for approval this week.

“Senator Feingold has said it well,” said Marjorie Cohn, President of the National Lawyers Guild. “This is not a compromise measure; this is a total capitulation to the White House.”

The FISA bill passed by the House last week authorizes sweeping, untargeted surveillance of all electronic communications to and from this country. It also gives virtually complete immunity to the telephone companies who cooperate with the government and turn over personal telephone records for their customers without any notice to the consumer.

Under the House proposal, any member of Congress who is not on the Judiciary or Intelligence Committees will not have access to reports on the FISA surveillance. At the same time, the House bill wipes out any meaningful judicial review of the warrants issued to conduct the surveillance, creating an “exigent” circumstances exception that guts the Fourth Amendment. The special FISA court, which approves these warrants, will officially now be nothing but a rubber-stamp for the White House under the proposed measure.

Just two weeks ago, the Supreme Court ruled against the administration for the third time in the Guantanamo detainee cases, reminding the nation that the so-called “War on Terror” is not a blank check for the President to eviscerate the Fourth Amendment. With this bill, the House of Representatives has handed the White House another blank check.

“The nation wants change. That is the message of this election. Let’s start meaningful change by ending secret government spying on Americans,” said Cohn.

Founded in 1937 as an alternative to the American Bar Association, which did not admit people of color, the National Lawyers Guild is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.


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