Obama to protect immunity of TSPs who assisted in warrantless wiretapping



After assuring the CIA that “he has no plans to launch a legal inquiry” into its use of torture methods to interrogate prisoners, Barack Obama is now sending a similar message to telecommunications service providers (TSPs) who participated in the Bush Administration’s warrantless surveillance program. Eric Holder, who is Obama’s nominee for the position of US Attorney General, told the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary that the Obama Administration intends to safeguard the immunity of all TSPs that participated in warrantless wiretapping. Speaking before the Committee last Thursday, Holder said the new Administration will keep protecting TSPs from privacy lawsuits “[u]nless there are compelling reasons” to do otherwise. He did not specify what such “compelling reasons” might be. His justification was that “[t]he duty of the Justice Department is to defend statutes that have been passed by Congress”. Last June, Democratic Congress approved a Republican-proposed bill [.pdf] sheltering all TSPs who participated in warrantless spying from legal repercussions of any kind. One of the few Congress members who voted against the legislation was Russ Feingold (D-WI), who described the passing of the bill as “not a compromise [but] a capitulation” on the part of the Democrats.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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