Statement by Tanya Clay House, People For the American Way Director of Public Policy:
As reported yesterday in CQ, Bush administration spokesman Tony Fratto, while discussing the FISA debate, said “We’re exactly three weeks away from the date when terrorists can be free to make phone calls without fear of being surveilled by U.S. intelligence agencies.”
That’s a bold-faced lie, but one that has become a mantra of this administration. Fortunately on Saturday we’ll be exactly one year away from the date when Americans won’t have to worry about President Bush demagoging the terrorism issue.
If we throw away our civil liberties in some misguided effort to fight terror, the terrorists will have won. Fortunately Senator Leahy has put forward a plan, though not perfect, that fights terrorism while protecting civil liberties. Americans want to be safe, but they also want to remain free.
Senator Leahy’s plan would go just as far as Bush’s to keep us safe, but without completely shutting off oversight by the FISA court and giving a “get out of jail free card” to telecom companies that may have violated the law at the administration’s urging.