In a letter (pdf) to Senate leaders and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Chris Dodd (D-CT), urged against including immunity for telecommunications companies in the FISA amendments bill. Currently, House and Senate negotiators are seeking to reconcile the two chambers’ versions of the bill. A major hurdle has been whether to allow retroactive immunity for the companies that assisted the NSA with its warrantless wiretap program.
The senators criticized Sen. Kit Bond’s proposal to reconcile the different versions of the bill. “[We] want to make clear that his proposal is just as unacceptable as the immunity provision in the Senate bill, which we vigorously opposed.” Senators Dodd and Feingold also wrote, “As we have explained repeatedly in the past, existing law already immunizes telephone companies that respond in good faith to a government request, as long as that request meets certain clearly spelled-out statutory requirements.” The senators also detail four significant flaws in the Senate version that they urge the negotiators to fix.