Merkley Joins Effort to Protect Civil Liberties

Merkley Joins Effort to Protect Civil Liberties

Co-sponsors Legislation to Repeal Retroactive Immunity Provision in FISA Amendments Act

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 Administration. 

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.