Communication from Sen. Leahy: I oppose the new FISA bill

Dear Carol,

For many months now, the Leahy for Vermont community and online activists everywhere have urged Congress to fix FISA the right way: by passing a bill that protects both our national security and our civil liberties. Together, we have had a huge impact on this debate, calling for legislation that protects Americans from the Bush-Cheney Administration's relentless assault on the Constitution, and we should be extremely proud of these efforts.

But after months of negotiations, the House today unveiled a new FISA bill that I cannot support. While I applaud the fact that this legislation includes some of the important surveillance protections we wrote into the Senate Judiciary Committee bill last year, it fails to hold the Bush-Cheney Administration accountable for its illegal wiretapping program.

I received the following two communications: The first was from Senator Leahy; the second from the ACLU.

I will oppose this new FISA bill when the Senate votes on it next week. We must do everything we can to protect Americans from the Bush-Cheney Administration's erosion of our civil liberties and callous disregard for the rule of law -- and this new FISA bill fails that test.

Thank you for all that you have done -- and all you will continue to do -- to help America protect our security while honoring our core values and respecting our fundamental rights. As the Supreme Court wrote in its habeas decision last week, "Security subsists, too, in fidelity to freedom's first principles."

Sincerely,

Patrick Leahy
U.S. Senator
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Dear ACLU Supporter,

Despite the outrage coming from a broad coalition of concerned citizens, by tomorrow night the House of Representatives will vote on whether or not to gut the Constitution and give immunity to phone companies who broke the law and spied on Americans.

We have to act now. Even if you’ve emailed, called or visited your members of Congress about FISA, we need you to contact them again today.

Congress is moving so fast and so secretively that we only got a copy of this bill this morning. I can tell you it’s horrible. It contains vacuum cleaner style surveillance that sweeps up the phone calls and emails of Americans. And it’s blatantly unconstitutional.

The bottom line is that this is legislation that benefits a few of our country’s largest corporations while taking away basic rights from the rest of us. And it is unacceptable.

I’m going to spend the rest of the day on the phone calling Capitol Hill trying to stop this bill. I hope you will spend whatever time you can to make the voice of freedom heard in Congress -- make calls, ask your friends and family to call -- please do whatever you can.

Put Congress on notice that the American people don’t want a "compromise" that sells out our rights. Act now. We’re hearing the vote is tomorrow, so we could have less than 24 hours.

Believe me, no matter what happens, the ACLU will continue fighting this -- if necessary, in the courts.

Thank you for all you have done through this fight. Your dedication has truly inspired me and all of us at the ACLU. Now, let's hit the phones!

Thank you,

Caroline Fredrickson, Director
ACLU Washington Legislative Office

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