ACLU Condemns FISA Captitulation in the House; Calls Needed to Sen. Feinstein

The House of Representatives today voted 293-129 in favor of the Hoyer/Bush FISA deal, a bill that allows for mass and untargeted surveillance on Americans’ communications and gives blanket immunity to the phone companies, virtually guaranteeing lawsuits against telecom companies will be dismissed. The bill gives the telecoms what amounts to a pardon for breaking the law.

The Senate will vote on the bill the week of June 23rd. The ACLU strongly urges all ACLU members and all those who hold dear the guarantees of the First and Fourth Amendments and their protections of free speech and privacy rights to call our senators and stand up for your rights.

We need to make clear that the American people do not accept that the White House—or anyone else—is above the law.

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This FISA deal allows for a vacuum cleaner style of surveillance of Americans’ communications. While there is a clause calling for a court review, the only aspect the court would be able to look at is the procedures for the year-long dragnet and not at the who, what and why of the spying. Thus, the review effectually is mere window-dressing.

Even this superficial court review has a gaping loophole – ‘exigent’ circumstances can shortcut even this perfunctory oversight. Worse yet, if the court denies an order for any reason, the government is allowed to continue surveillance throughout the appeals process, thereby rendering the role of the judiciary meaningless. Caroline Frederickson, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office said, “In the end, there is no one to answer to; a court review without power is no court review at all.”

Frederickson added, “Congress is now upping the ante with a thinly-veiled giveaway to some major campaign donors. The Hoyer/Bush surveillance deal was clearly written with the telephone companies and internet providers at the table and for their benefit. They wanted immunity. . .and this bill gives it to them.”

The ACLU urges you to conact Senator Feinstein immediately.

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