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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 8, 2008
Fact Sheet: Retroactive Liability Protection Is Critical to Our National Security
Congress Should Not Pass Any Amendments To Delay Or Eliminate Retroactive Liability Protection For Companies Believed To Have Assisted Our Government In The Aftermath Of 9/11
As Congress returns from its Fourth of July recess, it should act quickly to pass the crucial long-term FISA modernization bill to keep our Nation safe. The strong bipartisan legislation passed in the House provides the Intelligence Community with the tools it needs to secure our Nation while protecting the liberties of Americans. This bill also provides the necessary legal protections for those companies sued in the aftermath of 9/11. Both Houses of Congress, by wide bipartisan margins, have made the judgment that retroactive liability protection is the appropriate and fair result. If Congress were to include any amendment that eliminates or delays liability protection for those that assisted the Government in the aftermath of 9/11, the President would veto this legislation.
Three Senate Amendments Threaten The Important Liability Protection Provided In The Bipartisan House Bill
1. The Dodd/Feingold/Leahy amendment proposes to entirely eliminate retroactive liability protection from the bipartisan House intelligence legislation. The Administration opposes any amendment to strike liability protection because any companies that may have assisted the Government after 9/11 were assured that their cooperation was legal and necessary. The liability protection in the bipartisan House legislation does not extend to the Government or Government officials, and it does not immunize any criminal conduct. The liability protection provision applies only in a narrow set of circumstances. An action must be dismissed if:
2. The Specter Amendment would continue to leave companies vulnerable to unwarranted and unfair lawsuits. Congress should not allow companies to be subjected to billion-dollar claims because they are believed to have answered the Government's request for assistance and were assured of the legality of any actions.
3. The Bingaman amendment would unnecessarily postpone a decision on whether to provide liability protection to telecommunications companies. The amendment would prevent providers from receiving retroactive liability protection until 90 days after the Inspectors General of various departments complete and submit a review of prior activities.
Retroactive Liability Protection Is The Appropriate And Fair Result
Liability protection is a fair and just result and is necessary to ensure the continued assistance of the private sector. The Senate Intelligence Committee already conducted an extensive study of the issue and determined that providers had acted in response to written requests or directives stating that the activities had been authorized by the President and had been determined to be lawful. This Committee, chaired by Sen. Rockefeller (D-WV), carefully studied the issue and found that "without retroactive immunity, the private sector might be unwilling to cooperate with lawful Government requests in the future without unnecessary court involvement and protracted litigation."
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