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Sen. Barbara Boxer

Sen. Barbara Boxer

Posted: June 24, 2008 05:40 PM

We Need to Know the Truth About the NSA Spy Program


One of the most basic tenets of our freedom is justice, and at the heart of justice lies the search for truth.

Throughout history, whenever the United States government has violated the trust of the American people, we have always worked to regain that trust by seeking the truth and allowing for a full examination of the abuses of government power.

Unfortunately, the FISA legislation the Senate will soon consider falls short of that standard.

The bill would not only deny the Court the ability to finally make a determination as to the legality of the NSA program and the extent of the spying, but would effectively guarantee immunity for the telecommunications companies who violated the privacy of their customers. This provision will prevent us from finding out the truth.

We can indemnify the telecom companies, but we should not shut down the legal process.

I know that many of my colleagues in the Senate think we know enough about this program. But we do not know enough. The Bush administration trampled on the Constitution, and we are not doing anything in the bill to provide real accountability.

If we vote for this FISA legislation, we are perpetuating a cover-up.

I want to be clear -- I support giving our government every tool necessary to track down terrorists and protect our citizens. But we also have a responsibility to uphold the constitution and the rights of our citizens.

We should remember, as former Justice Thurgood Marshall said, "History teaches us that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure."

Our constitution is not an extravagance. It is not something we can hold up when it suits us, and set it aside when it hinders us. It is the centerpiece of our democracy.

I just spoke on the Senate floor about the FISA bill. You can view the speech here, and I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

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