Thursday, June 26, 2008

Retroactive Immunity

The government is stomping on the fourth amendment, in case you hadn't heard.

Telecommunication companies that helped the government tap phones and listen in on the private conversations of Americans without a warrant are now being sued for their actions. Around 40 lawsuits have been filed against these companies because these actions are illegal based on the fourth amendment, which states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Sounds good, right? Upholding the Constitution and whatnot.

Unfortunately for the constitution, a bill has passed in the House and is now sitting in waiting in the Senate that will give retroactive immunity to these telecom companies because Bush told them to do it. According to this Reuters article, the suits stem from their participation in a warrantless electronic surveillance program Bush secretly began shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Again from Reuters, critics also charge Bush violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in authorizing the spy program without court approval. He maintains he had the wartime power to do it. But in January 2007 he put the program under FISA court jurisdiction.

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