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    Monday, September 25, 2006

    Urgent Action Item: Something bad is about to happen

    Crossposted and copied directly from the DownsizeDC.org blog. (Emphasis added)

    "Something bad is about to happen.
    Only you can stop it, and the clock is ticking.

    We hate to sound apocalyptic. We loathe the politics of fear (even if it works!). So we're not looking to scare you.

    But you need to know that the end is near for "archaic" ideas like . . .
    * the right to security in your home and papers

    * the right to be free from unreasonable searches
    * the safety net of judicial warrant requirements
    * the right to a trial by a jury of your peers in a system of due process
    * reasonable bail and recourse for false arrest
    * protection from cruel and unusual punishment

    Those were great ideals for "dead white men," but apparently your children won't need them anymore. Because, you know, the politicians need to protect you and your children from terrorism.

    But the politicians need to get a grip, and a sense of proportion. You don't turn the country upside down for light and transient causes. You're more likely to die in your car, or be struck by lightening, than be harmed by terrorism. We don't fret about such risks, so why are destroying American freedom in the name of an even smaller risk?

    A bill is about to pass the House. It permits unlimited spying on your internet usage and telecommunications, the Fourth Amendment be damned. For brevity, I'll call it the "Spying on Americans Act," or SPA for short.

    The SPA is likely to pass the Senate too, but there we have a chance to stop it.
    Under SPA . . .
    * The President can spy on you without a warrant

    * You'll never learn that his spys have done so, until they use the information against you (legally or not)
    * Your phone and internet providers can't refuse to provide information about you
    * Or tell you they've done so after the fact
    The result will be more warrantless searches than in all of U.S. history. And if that history is any guide, it's only a matter of time before this power is used for reasons other than "national security."

    The House may vote any minute. The Senate will likely vote Tuesday.
    I'll tell you what to do in a moment, but first, there's more bad news.

    Congress also has a plan for non-citizen residents and ANYONE on foreign soil.
    Senator Bill Frist wants to be your President, so he's pandering to the "my country right or wrong" crowd. He wants to leave the Senate with a bang. He thinks he can do this by combining the Tribunal/Torture bill with the Spying on Americans Act.

    And the news on the Tribunal/Torture bill just got worse. There was a "lesser evil" version of this bill from Senators Warner and McCain, but Warner and McCain just rolled over. The new bill will . . .
    * Allow the President to detain people indefinitely without charges,

    * Deny detainees access to courts to challenge their detention or their treatment.
    * Create special military tribunals with reduced standards of due process
    * Deny detainees the protection of the Geneva Convention's Common Article 3
    * Allow the President to define torture.

    But you may not hear it reported this way in the media, because the politicians are playing clever games with words. Take note: The protections of Common Article 3 aren't defined in the legislation, so Congress can claim they've left these protections in place. But it isn't true, because now only the President decides what those protections actually are, and no accused person can even claim the protection of Common Article 3 before the special tribunals this legislation creates.

    Nice trick. The protections are still there, but the President decides what they are, and no one can use them.

    Do you want this President to have this power? Do you want future presidents to have it? Do you want to risk that these powers won't be applied to citizens as well, as soon as the politicians have the slightest excuse for doing so?

    So here's what the Senate will face Tuesday . . .
    * A bill permitting spying on Americans without a warrant.

    * Another bill creating special tribunals and permitting torture.
    * A proposal to combine these bills.

    None of these bills will be read, and none of us will have a chance to review them before the vote happens. But they are likely to pass, because the Republicans control both chambers and their President is in big trouble. He's broken existing laws in a number of ways, and now he needs new legislation to cover his butt after the fact.

    This shouldn't be possible in our system, but a court decision on the President's illegal spying opened the door for Congress to do this. We have no checks. We have no balances. The courts have failed to do their duty and the Republican Congress is a rubber stamp for a lawless Republican President.

    Are we exaggerating?
    Are we being partisan?
    We aren't telling you the half of it.
    This President has violated so many laws in so many ways it would take a book to catalog them. And we aren't being partisan because plenty of Republicans in Congress agree with us, they just need public encouragement to develop a little backbone.

    This is your role.

    These bills will pass in the House, but we need to have as many votes against them as we can muster. This will help us in the Senate. Senate rules make it possible for us to stop these bills in that chamber. YOU need to make a BIG NOISE. And know this . . .

    You won't be alone. We're working with more than a dozen national organizations to make this BIG NOISE.

    We need to pull out all the stops. Please, PLEASE, pay close attention to these instructions. DO ALL FOUR OF THE FOLLOWING THINGS AS SOON AS YOU CAN!!!

    1) Go to the DownsizeDC.org campaign opposing warrantless spying: "No Warrant? No Search." Send a message to your Senators and your Representative. Tell them to resist in every way they can the combination of this bill with the Tribunals bill. Urge them to do everything in their power to block, stop, and/or filibusters this bill. And if it still comes up for a vote, tell them to vote NO, and that you'll be watching. The message to Congress for this campaign has been reconfigured to make this easy for you.

    2) Go to the DownsizeDC.org campaign opposing the new tribunals: "No Torture! No “Star Chamber Courts!" Send a message to your Senators and your Representative. Tell them torture is un-American, useless, and counter-productive. Urge them to keep the warrantless spying bill separate. Implore them to do everything they can to block, stop, and/or filibuster this bill. And if it still comes up for a vote, tell them to vote NO, and that you'll be watching. The message to Congress for this campaign has been reconfigured to make this easy for you.

    3) We have a targeted list of Senators. If your Senator is on the list, it's urgent that you call and leave a message ASAP. Remember, this vote is scheduled for Tuesday. Tell them you're a constituent. Keep it short, simple, and polite. Make notes before you call. Make the points already made in #1 and #2 above. Here's the list . . .
    Idaho - Larry Craig 202-224-2752
    Rhode Island - Lincoln Chaffee 202-224-2921
    South Dakota - Tim Johnson 202-224-5842
    Louisiana - Mary Landrieu 202-224-5824
    Michigan - Carl Levin 202-224-6221
    Arkansas - Blanche Lincoln 202-224-4843
    New Jersey - Robert Menendez 202-224-4744
    Alaska - Lisa Murkowski 202-224-6665
    Florida - Bill Nelson 202-224-5274
    Nebraska - Ben Nelson 202-224-6551
    Nevada - Harry Reid 202-224-3542
    Maine - Olympia Snowe 202-224-5344
    New Hampshire - John Sununu 202-224-2841

    Remember, this is urgent. We're about to lose precious rights. We need extraordinary effort. So I want to ask you to do one more thing . . .

    4) Tell everyone you know to do the same thing. Pass this message to friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and customers. Maybe they'll think you're un-patriotic for opposing torture and for mistrusting politicians with such great powers. SO WHAT! And if you received this message from a friend, and it's not Wednesday, September 27, 2006 yet, there's still time. Act fast and then pass this message to everyone you know.

    Keep in mind, you're not alone. And we can still win by blocking this in the Senate. The Senate is eager to get back home and campaign. Most observers believe they'll pack up and head home Saturday. Delay the vote and we may stop the danger.

    DC Downsizers, rise up and take a stand for the 4th and 8th Amendments. Do your part. We're counting on YOU.

    Jim BabkaPresidentDownsizeDC.org, Inc.

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    TheRambleman said...

    I hope I wasn't too late. I did however go and send letters opposing both torture and warrentless searches. Thanks for the heads-up.

    TheRambleman said...

    "Thanks for taking action. It is a lovely day out today, isn't it?"

    You're welcome. I just hope it's not too late, which I fear it probably is. And yes, it's quite the lovely day. Gorgeous actually! :-)