Tomorrow morning is the long-awaited mark-up
of the surveillance bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee. And Russ Feingold (D-WI), who voted against the bill in the intelligence committee, is going to redouble his efforts to rid the bill of its provision granting retroactive legal immunity to telecommunications companies that complied with the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program. From a statement, via ThinkProgress
Granting retroactive immunity for companies that allegedly went along with this illegal program is unjustified and undermines the rule of law. Not only would retroactive immunity set the terrible precedent that breaking the law is permissible and companies need not worry about the privacy of their customers, but it would likely prevent courts from ruling on the Presidentâs illegal warrantless wiretapping program. This program was one of the worst abuses of executive power in our history, and the courts should be able to rule on it once and for all.
Recently, AT&T whistleblower technician Mark Klein said
the provision was a cover-up, designed to prevent the public from learning the extent of what Klein called unbounded and "massively domestic" surveillance. Committee leaders Pat Leahy (D-VT) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) have been critics of the immunity provision, so perhaps Feingold can quash the provision in Judiciary, even if he wasn't able to do so on the intelligence committee.