Oct 11, 2007
Newsweek recently reported that the nation's biggest phone companies, "working closely with the White House, have mounted a secretive lobbying campaign to get Congress to quickly approve a measure wiping out all private lawsuits against them" for helping the Bush administration illegally wiretap innocent Americans.1
Yesterday, President Bush weighed in publicly, promising to veto an upcoming bill dealing with our nation's wiretapping policy if it doesn't give corporations retroactive immunity for their lawbreaking.2
Pending lawsuits could be the only way Americans ever find out how far Bush went in breaking the law—Bush's threat yesterday is an attempted cover-up.3
Some Democrats like Sen. Russ Feingold immediately said no to Bush.4 But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said retroactive immunity "is not off the table."5
Can you call your Congressman today? Tell him to oppose retroactive immunity for phone companies' lawbreaking.
Yesterday, the American Civil Liberties Union summed up the situation well:
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.6
After September 11, the Bush Administration began working with phone companies to monitor the private phone calls and emails of millions of ordinary Americans without legally-required warrants. A former AT&T employee says the company even let the government set up shop right in their office—a charge AT&T has refused to confirm or deny.7
Since then, lawsuits have been filed against these companies for breaking the law—and these suits could allow facts to surface that the Bush administration has so far refused to give Congress. Retroactive immunity for phone company lawbreaking could prevent the truth from ever coming out.
That's why we need lots of members of Congress to oppose the idea of letting these phone companies off the hook for past lawbreaking. Can you call or email your Rep?
Thanks for all you do.
–Nita, Adam G., Justin, Natalie and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team
Thursday, October 11th, 2007
1. "Case Dismissed? The secret lobbying campaign your phone company doesn't want you to know about," Newsweek, September 20, 2007
2. "Wiretap laws face new static," ZDNet News, October 10, 2007
3. "Congress Stand Firm: America Deserves A Legal Decision on Warrantless Wiretapping," Electronic Frontier Foundation, October 10, 2007
4. "Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold In Response to the President's Remarks on FISA," October 10, 2007
5. "Wiretap laws face new static," ZDNet News, October 10, 2007
6. "ACLU Response to President Bush's Request for Telecom Amnesty, Civil Liberties Group Lauds House Committee Vote to Reject Telecom Immunity," ACLU Press Release, October 10, 2007
7. "Wiretap laws face new static," ZDNet News, October 10, 2007
Sep 18, 2006
This week, the Senate is planning to quietly hold a vote that would pardon President Bush for breaking the law by illegally wiretapping innocent Americans without warrants. According to Senator Leahy, the bill would "...immunize officials who have violated federal law by authorizing such illegal activities."1
President Bush broke the law, and courts are starting to agree. Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter once said the program was illegal "on its face." But he has now caved to pressure from Vice President Cheney, and introduced legislation that marks a new low: the bill justifies everything the president did. Worse, it makes it legal to wiretap Americans, in secret, without warrants or oversight, whenever the administration wants to.2
So far, Democrats and some Republicans are holding strong against the bill, and there are good chances to stop it if enough of us speak up. Can you sign the petition opposing the Republican move to pardon President Bush for breaking the law?
Many legal experts agree that the president's program to wiretap Americans who have nothing to do with terrorism violates the law. President Bush already has the authority to wiretap suspected terrorists—and we support that. In fact, his administration can tap anyone it likes as long as it gets an OK from a court a few days later.
Congress should be trying to hold him accountable—that's their job. Instead, some Republicans are trying to let President Bush off the hook completely. In fact, the legislation would give the president even more unchecked power.
Here are some quick facts about the Cheney-Specter bill:
Since the program was exposed in December of last year, we've learned that President Bush personally blocked a Justice Department investigation of the program, Vice President Cheney also personally intervened to stop telecom companies from testifying to Congress about it, and a federal court recently ruled the program unconstitutional.9 In an effort to protect himself from further consequences, the president is pressuring Congress to let him off the hook.
- It allows President Bush—and every president after him—to wiretap Americans indefinitely, in secret, without a warrant and without any oversight. 3
- It effectively pardons the president for any illegal behavior by forcing Congress to concede that he has the inherent authority to conduct the program4—something federal courts, numerous legal experts and many leading Republicans disagree with. 5
- It completely guts FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) which has protected the privacy of Americans against illegal wiretaps for close to 30 years.6
- It prevents any legal challenges from taking place in the public court system. Instead, it moves all cases to a secret court, where only Bush administration officials can argue it. 7
- It would help "immunize" any officials who broke the law in this program from being held accountable in the future. 8
This is an important issue and it will help remind Americans, in an election year, what Republicans are all about—accumulating power for themselves, and trampling the system of checks and balances designed to stop that. Can you sign the petition today?
It's the Senate's job to act as a check on the president's power. If they can't do it, they shouldn't be in Washington.
Thanks for all you do,
Jan 21, 2006
It now appears that President Bush conducted illegal wiretaps on American citizens. We're calling for a special prosecutor to investigate. Can you help reach 250,000 signers before Congress holds hearings on this matter in early February?
Sign the Petition
Dear MoveOn member,
As you probably saw in the news this morning, the Bush administration is facing growing backlash from across the political spectrum on its secret, allegedly illegal wiretapping program. Even conservative leaders like Grover Norquist are calling for investigations.1 Yesterday, the administration released yet another legal defense—but many of the arguments were already debunked by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service.2
Breaking the law to spy on American citizens is a very serious abuse of power, but many members of Congress think people will let it slide. So we're launching a petition that asks for a special prosecutor—like Patrick Fitzgerald—to find out the facts, and asks Congress to hold a real investigation into what happened. We're also asking for protection for whistleblowers who come forward with evidence of wrongdoing.
Can you help us reach 250,000 signers before we deliver it at the Congressional hearings on President Bush's wiretaps in early February? Just go to:
On Monday, former Vice President Al Gore gave a speech about the program, where he said: "What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the president of the United States has been breaking the law, repeatedly and persistently."
Jan 21, 2006 6:16pm
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