Even longtime ACLU leader Morton Halperin is endorsing the FISA bill, which authorizes and regulates federal antiterror surveillance programs. Halperin says that the “bill provides important safeguards for civil liberties” in his editorial today in the New York Times. (As director of the ACLU office in Washington, Halperin defended the right of the The Progressive magazine to publish details on how to construct an atomic bomb). Halperin says that the bill “represents our best chance to protect both our national security and our civil liberties.” (Other countries like Sweden permit their governments to engage in much broader surveillance than the FISA bill would permit the U.S. government to do).
I earlier explained why the FISA bill appropriately grants phone companies immunity from being sued in certain circumstances, and how doing so protects phone companies from a legal double standard. Trial lawyers, who have brought multibillion dollar lawsuits against the phone companies, vociferously oppose immunity.