Senate Spy Debate Set for Next Week

February 1, 2008 12:00 am

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ACLU Prepares for Constitutional Showdown

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Washington, DC – On the eve of Groundhog Day, the American Civil Liberties Union warned the Senate not to doom itself to repeat history with its upcoming debate on warrantless wiretapping. Both the House and Senate passed a 15-day extension to the Protect America Act in response to President Bush’s claims that the “flow of vital intelligence” would be disrupted if Congress could not meet the February 1 deadline. Last night, the Senate reached an agreement on the rules of the debate which will take place Monday and Tuesday.

The following may be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“The Senate stands on the verge of making a huge mistake by endorsing the administration’s massive, untargeted and warrantless surveillance and the illegal actions by the telecoms. At this point, we’re asking the Senate to stand up to the administration and pass a bill that gives priority to the constitutionally protected privacy interests of all Americans – not to the nefarious power grab of an administration now bordering on the brink of irrelevance. There are several amendments that could improve the bill, including those to strip immunity out and prevent bulk collection of communication.

“Our demands are simple: stay true to your oath to protect the Constitution. Stand up against an overreaching executive branch and don’t grant blanket immunity to huge corporations that sold out Americans’ privacy. What have we come to when we have to plead with our members of Congress to look out for our interests over the president’s?

“Unfortunately, this debate has been set up to fail civil liberties and the Constitution. What’s happened to the outraged majority of last August? Where is the indignation our leaders felt after being ‘forced’ to pass the Protect America Act? If senators actually go against the will of the American people and pass this bill, not only will we never get the truth behind the domestic spying program, we will have watched our Congress sanction it.”

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