Leave Us Alone!

Monday, September 04, 2006

"No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session," Part II

The Congressional recess was fun while it lasted, but Congress will soon be back at work, threatening your life, liberty, and property. Over the next few days, I'll tell you about some legislative abominations that are working their way through Congress, and what you can do to help stop them.

S. 2453

Senate Bill 2453, a so-called "compromise" bill sponsored by Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), would legalize President Bush's illegal, warrantless, domestic spying scheme. I would provide a link to the text of S. 2453, but Thomas reports that it has not yet been received by the Government Printing Office.

At Salon, Glenn Greenwald examines the details of S. 2453, and finds that:

In reality, Specter does not want to amend the mandates of FISA so much as abolish them. His bill makes it optional, rather than mandatory, for the president to subject himself to judicial oversight when eavesdropping on Americans, in effect returning the nation to the pre-FISA era. Essentially, the president would be allowed to eavesdrop at will, precisely the situation that led to the surveillance abuses of the Nixon White House and J. Edgar Hoover's FBI.

Mr. Greenwald further states:

Beyond its impact on those pending cases, the Specter bill would virtually ensure that all legal questions relating to warrantless eavesdropping -- including the question of whether warrantless eavesdropping violates the Fourth Amendment's requirement of probable-cause warrants for all searches -- be decided by the FISA court, which means that 1) only one side would be present in court to argue these issues (the Bush administration) and 2) all proceedings, including the decision itself, might very well be secret.

Mr. Greenwald's entire article is available here, free of charge if you sit through a brief advertisement first. Mr. Greenwald also has more about the NSA scandal at his blog, Unclaimed Territory.

The ACLU's action center makes it easy to take action against S. 2453. Go here to find telephone numbers for your members of Congress. The ACLU also provides talking points:

  • The recent terror plot exposed in the United Kingdom highlights the need to make sure our anti-terrorism resources are focused on al Qaeda operatives and not wasted on innocent Americans who have done nothing wrong.
  • Please oppose Senate bill S. 2453, which would enshrine in federal law the president's claim of inherent, exclusive power to wiretap Americans at will without a warrant or any independent check. It's like the Patriot Act on steroids.
  • It would also empower government spies to capture and read any emails you send, as long as the government does not know whether all the recipients are physically located in the U.S.
  • Also oppose S. 2455, which also would make judicial review of each individual wiretap optional, destroying our fundamental Fourth Amendment rights.
  • Supporters claim this bill is "surveillance we can live with," but the fact is Cheney-Specter vastly expands the government's power to spy on Americans without any individualized warrant, and allows a secret court to rubberstamp surveillance without even knowing the names of Americans to be spied on or whether they've done anything wrong.

If you prefer to contact your elected officials via e-mail, Downsize D.C. makes it easy to to so.

Please take a few minutes to contact your members of Congress and tell them to oppose S. 2453.


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