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Yesterday, some congressional Democrats cut a deal to let companies that helped President Bush break the law off the hook. Barack Obama's promised to oppose such a bill in the past. Can you tell him we're counting on him to stand strong against "immunity" for lawbreaking phone companies?

Obama's presidential campaign: (866) 675-2008

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Dear MoveOn member,

On Friday, House Democrats caved to the Bush administration and passed a bill giving a get-out-of-jail-free card to phone companies that helped Bush illegally spy on innocent Americans.1  

This Monday, the fight moves to the Senate. Senator Russ Feingold says the "deal is not a compromise; it is a capitulation."2 Barack Obama announced his partial support for the bill, but said, "It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses."3

Last year, after phone calls from MoveOn members and others, Obama went so far as to vow to "support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies."4 We need him to honor that promise.

Can you call Senator Obama today and tell him you're counting on him to keep his word? Ask him to block any compromise that includes immunity for phone companies that helped Bush break the law.

Obama's presidential campaign: (866) 675-2008

Then, help us track our progress by clicking here:

http://pol.moveon.org/call?cp_id=758&tg=479

These companies helped the Bush Administration illegally spy on the emails and phone calls of innocent Americans. By giving "immunity" to these companies, all lawsuits brought against them by civil liberties groups would be thrown out of court. That means we may never find out how far Bush went in breaking the law. And once it's done, it can't be undone. That's why we need Obama to promise to block any bill that has immunity.

Supporters of today's deal say it doesn't guarantee immunity—it just kicks the issue to a court to decide. But that's deceptive. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) points out:

"It gives [Bush's] attorney general the power to decide if cases against telecommunications companies will proceed. The AG only has to certify to the FISA court that the company didn't spy or did so with a permission slip from the president. A note from the president is not a legal defense. Allowing phone companies to avoid litigation by simply presenting a 'permission slip' from the president is not court review."5

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit group working with the ACLU to hold these companies accountable, adds, "whatever gloss might be put on it, the so-called 'compromise' on immunity for phone companies that broke the law is anything but a compromise...no matter how they spin it, this is still immunity, period."6

President Bush and the phone companies know that the facts are against them. A judge appointed by President Bush's father already wrote one opinion finding that "AT&T cannot seriously contend that a reasonable entity in its position could have believed that the alleged domestic dragnet was legal."7

But we'll never know how far their illegal actions went unless we fight back now. Can you tell Barack Obama you're counting on him to keep his word and block any compromise that gives immunity to lawbreaking phone companies?

Obama's presidential campaign: (866) 675-2008

Then, help us track our progress by clicking here:

http://pol.moveon.org/call?cp_id=758&tg=479

Thanks for all you do,

–Nita, Adam G., Patrick, Ilyse, and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team
Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sources:

1. "George Bush's latest powers, courtesy of the Democratic Congress," Glenn Greenwald on Salon.com, June 19, 2008
http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/06/19/telecom/index.html

2. "Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold On the FISA Deal," Statement of Senator Russ Feingold, June 19, 2008
http://feingold.senate.gov/~feingold/statements/08/06/20080619f.htm

3. "Obama Backing FISA 'Compromise," Greg Sargent at TPM Election Central, June 20, 2008
http://tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/06/obama_backing_fisa_compromise.php

4. "Obama Camp Says It: He'll Support Filibuster Of Any Bill Containing Telecom Immunity," Greg Sargent at TPM Election Central, October 24, 2007
http://tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com/2007/10/obama_camp_says_it_hell_support_filibuster_of_any_bill_containing_telecom_immunity.php

5. "Facts on the Senator Kit Bond's (R-Mo.) FISA Proposal," June 13, 2008
http://www.aclu.org/safefree/spying/35652res20080613.html

6. "Prepared Statement of Eff Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston on Immunity 'Compromise,'" Electronic Frontier Foundation, June 18, 2008
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/EFF_bankston.pdf

7. "Targeting Steny Hoyer for his contempt for the rule of law," Glenn Greenwald on Salon.com, June 17, 2008
http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/06/17/hoyer/index.html