FISA Amendments Act of 2008 Signed Into Law
by Amanda Adams*
Jul 11, 2008
The Senate overwhelmingly approved a new federal wiretapping law, the FISA Amendments Act (HR 6304) by a vote of 69-28. President Bush signed the bill into law on July 10. Existing lawsuits against telecom companies that assisted with the administration's warrantless wiretap program would be waived if a federal district court ruled that there was "substantial evidence" that the companies received written assurances that the program was authorized by the president. Amendments that would have limited the companies' ability to gain immunity from lawsuits failed. In addition, it allows warrantless surveillance of foreign targets who may be communicating with people in the U.S. Read the AP story here.
Shortly after Bush signed the bill into law, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced the filing of a lawsuit charging that the new law did not include proper constitutional protections, seeking a permanent injunction that would bar the government from conducting surveillance activity under the law. The Nation Magazine joined a coalition of plaintiffs that includes Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, Global Fund for Women, PEN American Center, Washington Office on Latin America, and Service Employees International Union. A posting from the Nation states; "We believe the challenged law undermines the ability of The Nation's editors, writers, contributors and staff to gather information that is critical to their work. The ability to communicate confidentially with sources is essential to journalists' work. Many of the people with whom the Nation's staff and contributors communicate will not share information if they believe that their identities cannot be kept confidential."