The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear a case against the nation’s telecommunications companies for cooperating with a once-secret wiretap program enacted by the Bush administration to monitor suspected terrorists. Under the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, telecom companies are given immunity in exchange for helping the government monitor private phone conversations. The program is supported by President Obama.
San Francisco Chronicle:
Tuesday’s order involved 30 suits against telecom companies around the nation that were consolidated in San Francisco.
The law that derailed those suits authorized the U.S. attorney general to immunize a company from liability by submitting a secret declaration to a judge containing one of two findings: either that the company had cooperated in surveillance that the president considered necessary to prevent a terrorist attack, or that the company had not participated.
Privacy-rights groups protested that the law eliminated public accountability and empowered the attorney general, rather than the courts, to decide whether a company was immune.