Keeping Up the FISA Fight: Just Say "No" to Immunity

What better time than today to honor the life of Martin Luther King than by remembering something he once said: "Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal." Yes, and think about this: everything President George W. Bush is doing today will someday be legal if members of Congress don't act, and act quickly, to ensure that doesn't happen.

Dr. King's words especially resonate in light of the fact that the Senate will take up the contentious issue of how to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act when they reconvene this week.

When an insidious measure which allows for warrantless eavesdropping on citizens' phone calls and emails, legislation ironically called the Protect America Act was scheduled to sunset, this fall, the Senate Intelligence Committee passed a measure which would require court review whenever an American citizen is targeted for surveillance anywhere in the world. The amended measure passed the Senate Intelligence Committee by a wide margin.

Importantly, though, the issue of immunity from prosecution for telecommunication behemoths, like AT&T, who broke privacy laws by turning over consumer information to the government was not addressed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. And, before any new FISA measure passes the Senate, we call upon Senate Majority Leader Reid to stand up to President Bush, and refuse to allow immunity to be written into any amendment to the Protect America Act.

More and more, lately, we hear of government officials insisting upon immunity before they appear before congressional committees investigating wrongdoing. Just last week, Jose Rodriguez, Jr., was scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, and agreed to do so only on condition that he be granted immunity.

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