Senator Sanders values the rule of law, and strongly opposed the decision to grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that illegally participated in President Bush's eavesdropping program. In 2008, he cosponsored an amendment to strike the retroactive immunity provisions from Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and in 2009, he cosponsored two separate bills that would repeal retroactive immunity.
Sanders cosponsored legislation that would curb many of the sweeping powers of the USA Patriot Act that are set to expire. As a member of the House of Representatives, Sanders was one of only 66 members of the House to vote against the draconian surveillance law that was passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. "We have got to do everything we can to protect the American people from terrorist attacks, but we can do that and uphold the rule of law," Sanders said.
Senator Sanders believes the rights to due process and equal treatment under the law are fundamentally important, and he is staunchly opposed to indefinite detention without trial. He voted against the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that would have allowed for the indefinite detention of American citizens. In addition, he is a cosponsor of the Due Process Guarantee Act that would explicitly protect American citizens from being detained without charge or trial.
Sanders has supported plans to transfer some detainees from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to top-security facilities in the United States. "I agree that Guantanamo must be shut down - and I want it shut down as soon as possible," Sanders said. "I want to make sure that torture is never again part of America's interrogation practices and that all detainees are treated under the rules of the Geneva Conventions."
Sanders' efforts to protect personal library and book store records earned him the American Library Association's 2003 "Politician of the Year" award. He has worked to end Bush-era abuses of civil liberties including the use of torture, NSA's warrantless wiretap program, restoring Habeas Corpus rights, and the unconstitutional expansion of executive power.