Merkley Joins Effort to Protect Civil Liberties

Washington, D.C. –
Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley
co-sponsored legislation today to repeal the retroactive immunity provision in
the FISA Amendments Act.  The Retroactive Immunity Repeal Act, introduced
by Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT), would repeal a provision that
shields telecommunications companies from legal repercussions if they violate
the law.

“During the previous administration, telecommunications companies were
granted retroactive immunity for violating the rights and privacy of millions
of Americans,” said Merkley.  “I am proud to join Senator Dodd and
co-sponsor the Retroactive Immunity Repeal Act to help restore accountability and increase
oversight to protect the privacy rights that have been central to our nation
since its inception.”

The Retroactive Immunity Repeal Act would amend the FISA Amendments Act, which
was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in 2008.  The
controversial legislation included a provision to shield companies from
liability for illegally violating their customers’ privacy during the Bush

Last week, Senator Merkley also signed on as an original co-sponsor of the
Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools in Counterterrorism Efforts (JUSTICE) Act,
introduced by Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Richard Durbin (D-IL). 
The JUSTICE Act would reform the USA Patriot Act, the FISA Amendments Act, and
other surveillance authorities to help restore judicial oversight.  The
legislation would protect the Constitutional rights of American citizens while
making sure intelligence and law enforcement agencies still have the tools they
need to fight terrorism.

“We must reverse the decisions that allowed our government
to intrude into the lives of American citizens.  The JUSTICE Act will
restore judicial oversight of surveillance activities in order to keep
Americans safe while preserving our rights,” said Merkley.