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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Senate Takes Cue from President Bush, Sides with Phone Companies

This morning, in a vote of 67 to 31, the Senate decided to leave language in its pending surveillance legislation that would provide retroactive immunity for telephone companies who aided the Bush administration in its illegal wiretapping program. The Senate is poised to pass its version of the bill later today. The legislation will then head into conference, where it will need to be reconciled with the version passed by the House of Representatives late last year. The House version, the RESTORE Act, would provide much greater oversight of future wiretapping programs and does not include retroactive immunity. Here's what Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron had to say about the vote.
Warrantless wiretapping undermines the basic privacy rights of all Americans. It is an unacceptable and illegal practice sanctioned by the Bush administration. I am deeply disappointed that the Senate has voted to ratify this outrageous policy by passing legislation that further erodes the protections established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Today, the Senate voted to give telecommunication corporations that participated in this lawless program immunity from liability – a vote that weakens the role of the judiciary, closes the courthouse doors to ordinary Americans, and insulates the president from oversight of this illegal program. Alliance for Justice urges Congress to abandon this defense of the President’s illegal wiretapping program and its perpetrators. Instead, it should adopt the RESTORE Act as passed by the House of Representatives, legislation that strikes a better balance between national security and civil liberties and refuses to immunize corporations for unlawful acts against

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