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Senate vote on telecom immunity justifies future lawbreaking

Marc Rotenberg [President, Electronic Privacy Information Center]: "The Senate's vote reflected a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of FISA. The law was enacted to make clear the circumstances under which
telephone companies could be required by the government to turn over customer records in foreign intelligence investigations. The law anticipated not only routine exigencies but also the circumstances under which the US went to war and it established appropriate procedures.

In granting retroactive immunity before there is a meaningful opportunity to determine whether the telephone companies complied with their legal obligations, the Senate has disregarded this law and the force of law. It has established a dangerous precedent that could, at a future time, justify greater lawlessness.

We will see the day when Senators who supported the President's warrantless wiretapping program will regret their votes, much as John Adams later regretted his support for the Alien and Sedition Acts."

Opinions expressed in JURIST Commentary are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST's editors, staff, donors or the University of Pittsburgh.

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