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Thursday, July 10, 2008

ACLU Stays in the Fight

Jane Hamsher brings the welcome news that the ACLU is going to file suit against the new, and despicably flawed, FISA bill which, regrettably, passed the Senate yesterday (Kudos to Hillary Clinton for doing the right thing. Obama? Not so much).

Jane passes on this from the ACLU's Executive Director Anthony Romero:
The bottom line is that no president should have the power to monitor the phones and emails of Americans without a warrant. And no president should have the power to pardon companies that broke the law. This bill was not a "compromise," as some in Congress would like you to believe. The only thing they compromised was your freedom.

George Bush will sign the FISA bill into law in a few short days, but that does not mean our fight is over.

Our lawyers are prepared to file a lawsuit challenging this unconstitutional legislation as soon as the ink dries on George Bush's signature. This is why it is so important that all of us add our names to the ACLU's newspaper ad.
In advance of the legal challenge, the ACLU will be running a full-page ad in a major national newspaper in protest, and the first 10,000 folks who sign on will have their names included in the ad itself.

From the ACLU's own press release on the travesty:
Today, in a blatant assault upon civil liberties and the right to privacy, the Senate passed an unconstitutional domestic spying bill that violates the Fourth Amendment and eliminates any meaningful role for judicial oversight of government surveillance. The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 was approved by a vote of 69 to 28 and is expected to be signed into law by President Bush shortly. This bill essentially legalizes the president’s unlawful warrantless wiretapping program revealed in December 2005 by the New York Times.

“Once again, Congress blinked and succumbed to the president’s fear-mongering. With today’s vote, the government has been given a green light to expand its power to spy on Americans and run roughshod over the Constitution,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “This legislation will give the government unfettered and unchecked access to innocent Americans’ international communications without a warrant. This is not only unconstitutional, but absolutely un-American.”

The FISA Amendments Act nearly eviscerates oversight of government surveillance by allowing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to review only general procedures for spying rather than individual warrants. The FISC will not be told any specifics about who will actually be wiretapped, thereby undercutting any meaningful role for the court and violating the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure.....

...“With one vote, Congress has strengthened the executive branch, weakened the judiciary and rendered itself irrelevant,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “This bill – soon to be law – is a constitutional nightmare. Americans should know that if this legislation is enacted and upheld, what they say on international phone calls or emails is no longer private. The government can listen in without having a specific reason to do so. Our rights as Americans have been curtailed and our privacy can no longer be assumed.
Might I remind y'all what a good and important cause supporting the ACLU is?

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