House Judiciary Dems: Why We Reject Retroactive Immunity

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After holding out for months, the administration finally turned over documents from the warrantless wiretapping program to the House Judiciary Committee. It was a transparent bid to convince Democrats to get on board with retroactive immunity for the telecoms, a plan that largely worked with the Senate intelligence committee.

But, obviously, it didn’t work. The Dems, led by Chair John Conyers (D-MI), reviewed the documentation. And in a statement today, Conyers and 19 members of the committee explain in detail why they concluded “that the Administration has not established a valid and credible case justifying the extraordinary action of Congress enacting blanket retroactive immunity as set forth in the Senate bill.”

They cite a number of factors as to why it would be inadvisable to remove the issue from the courts and give the telecoms a free pass on lawsuits challenging the program. But the overarching reason seems to be that it’s far from clear that the warrantless wiretapping program was legal, as the administration insists. In fact, they write, “our review of classified information has reinforced serious concerns about the potential illegality of the Administration’s actions in authorizing and carrying out its warrantless surveillance program.”

The House is expected to vote on the new bill (which Conyers helped write) tomorrow.

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