Democratic leaders are preparing to cave to intense pressure to give telecom companies immunity from spying-related lawsuits, News.com's Anne Broache reports.
Pitched as a "compromise" by Republicans, the new version essentially gives the Bush Administration "what it wants," Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU's Washington office, says. The proposal being promoted by Rep. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) would require the FISA (Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act) court "only to consider whether the attorney general's "certification" requesting surveillance assistance from a communications company was terrorism-related and legally authorized by the president," Broache reports.
"It's clear that they're giving (the provisions) nice titles, and Bond is suggesting that he's made a lot of concessions, but ultimately, the way the provisions work out is, the administration gets what it wants," Fredrickson said. "The immunity provision is garbage."
Among the concessions: Outside parties challenging the government's warrantless surveillance would be allowed to submit briefs to the secret court. There may be a lower standard for the court to review the certifications. And the court may be able to send a challenge back to regular federal court.