Nothing to Do With National Security? Nonsense…

By December 5, 2007Briefly Legal

Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) in the Huffington Post, writing about the House version of the FISA amendments, legislation governing U.S. intelligence monitoring of foreign terrorist activities.

We have refused to accept a key administration demand that telecom companies that cooperated with allegedly illegal government spying be immunized from any legal accountability. This is an outrageous demand, and has nothing to do with national security.


From a Nov. 15 letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) by Ronald C. Ruecker, president, International Association of Chiefs of Police, regarding similar immunity provisions in the Senate FISA bill:

It is my belief that failure to adopt this provision could jeopardize the cooperation of vital allies in our ongoing fight against crime and terrorism. Businesses often feel compelled to avoid the risk of litigation by declining to cooperate with law enforcement even though they have every reason to believe the request is lawful.

Police chiefs understand the vital role that private businesses often play in emergency situations and criminal investigations, and we are concerned that if these companies are faced with the threat of litigation for responding in these circumstances, it will have a chilling effect on their voluntary cooperation with law enforcement authorities in the future.

From a Nov. 13 letter to Leahy from Sheriff Craig Webre, president, National Sheriffs’ Association.

The nation’s sheriffs recognize the critical role that electronic communication service providers play in assisting intelligence officials in national security activities. However, given the scope of the current civil damages suits, we are gravely concerned that, without retroactive immunity, the private sector might be unwilling to cooperate with lawful government requests in the future. The possible reduction in intelligence that might result from protracted litigation is unacceptable for the security of our citizens.

These international chiefs of police and sheriffs are making specific national-security arguments, the same arguments you, Rep. Nadler, deem outrageous coming from the Administration.


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