“The legislation directly conflicts with the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, requiring the government to obtain a warrant before reading the e-mail messages or listening to the telephone calls of its citizens, and to state with particularity where it intends to search and what it expects to find. Compounding these wrongs, Congress is moving in a haphazard fashion to provide a “get out of jail free card” to the telephone companies that violated the rights of their subscribers. Some in Congress argue that this law-breaking is forgivable because it was done to help the government in a time of crisis. But it’s impossible for Congress to know the motivations of these companies or to know how the government will use the private information it received from them. And it is not as though the telecommunications companies did not know that their actions were illegal.” – Studs Terkel, New York Times
Tell Congress: No Amnesty for Verizon and AT&T
Bush wants retroactive immunity for the telecom companies to thwart civil liberties lawsuits that threaten to expose his own lawbreaking. If these lawsuits aren’t allowed to go forward, we may never know the extent of the Bush administration’s illegal efforts to spy on American citizens without the required warrants.
“Why is the president of the United States trying to get the telecommunications companies off the hook for their illegal activity? He is supposed to be upholding laws, not encouraging companies to break them. Businesses that break the law should be held accountable. We expect these companies to keep our personal information private, and if they break the law, there should be consequences – not a re-write of the rule book. The House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees wisely rejected the president’s efforts to carry the water for the telecom companies and voted down an amendment that would add telecom amnesty to the bill. Members of Congress should not re-write laws just to get giant companies off the hook. They were elected to represent the American people, not big business.” – Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office
Tell your representatives to only pass a FISA modernization bill that has individualized warrants for people in the United States and NOT to provide telecom companies with immunity for breaking the law.
H.R. 3773, the “RESTORE Act of 2007,” currently being considered by the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees allows blanket, basket or program “warrants.” This means the government can vacuum up the international telephone calls and emails of Americans. Blanket, basket, program, no matter what these “warrants” are called, they aren’t really warrants at all, and they aren’t constitutional.