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Published:October 16th, 2007 12:10 EST
Spies, Lies and FISA

Spies, Lies and FISA

By SOP newswire

Dear Judyth Piazza,

Your Senator, Bill Nelson (D-FL), who is on the Senate Intelligence Committee, will meet behind closed doors this Thursday to start piecing together the Senate’s version of an electronic eavesdropping “reform” bill.

You have a critical role to play to ensure Senator Nelson protects the Constitution and our privacy. What the Intelligence Committee comes up with this Thursday will guide the direction of the whole Senate.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. As the New York Times stated this Sunday in its editorial, Spies, Lies, and FISA, President Bush is creating a fog of fear around spying, and bit by bit the House has caved to his demands. Now, the Senate is on the cusp of capitulation.

We’re hearing that senators are prepared to do two things to give the Bush administration what it wants to wiretap the phone calls and emails of Americans without any real check:

    1. Give “get out of jail free” cards to telecom companies that broke the intelligence collection law (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA) when they handed over the phone calls, emails, and private records of Americans to the government without a warrant.
       
    2. Support a “reform” bill that authorizes “basket” warrants, which aren’t really warrants at all. Rather, they are blank checks to sweep up, and keep forever, the private phone calls and emails between Americans and anyone outside the U.S.

    The Senate Intelligence Committee has the power to stop both things from happening.

    Please call your Senator on the committee, Bill Nelson
    In Washington, D.C.: (202) 224-5274
    Toll-free in Florida: (888) 671-4091.

    You can say something like this:

    I oppose granting telecom companies retroactive immunity for illegal spying and violations of my privacy. And I demand the Senate’s FISA reform bill requires individualized warrants for Americans.

    If Bush really has good reason to believe an American is talking to a terrorist, he will have no problem convincing a judge to issue a warrant.

    Look up phone numbers and log your call here.

    Once you've called, let us know how your call went here.

    So far, the House has refused to cave on telecom immunity (though they are caving on program, or basket "warrants" that scoop up the phone calls of Americans.) The House’s so-called RESTORE Act (H.R. 3773), doesn’t grant immunity to telecom companies that broke the law, but it’s not off the table and could resurface at any time, especially if it shows up in the Senate bill.

    That’s why it’s so critical you call your Senator, Bill Nelson
    In Washington, D.C.: (202) 224-5274
    Toll-free in Florida: (888) 671-4091.

    Once you've called, let us know how your call went here.

    This is a make-or-break battle you can help turn the tide on, especially as more facts are exposed about the Administration’s illegal spying.

    Thank you for keeping up the fight.

    Sincerely,

    Caroline Fredrickson, Director
    ACLU Washington Legislative Office

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