Information supplied byt the Bill of RIghts Defense Committee
• Emergency Preparedness Town Hall Meeting - - 07:00:00 PM
Patchogue Fire Department - 15 Jennings Avenue
It's not too late to give Congress a piece of your mind within your legislators' home district before the August recess ends on September 4! BORDC has found a list of many of the town hall meetings scheduled across the country, and we'd like to share it with you, asking that you use it to speak out about the recently passed Orwellian "Protect America Act"!
Please go to your local meeting with as many allies as you can gather and tell your representatives that warrantless wiretapping violates our fundamental rights to privacy, and threatens each of us. We're being treated as terrorist suspects by our own government when it demands the right to eavesdrop on our conversations and emails with no particularized suspicion.
STEPS TO GIVING CONGRESS A PIECE OF YOUR MIND
1. TELL YOUR FRIENDS TO MEET YOU THERE
2. Find out how Tim Bishop voted. What you might say to your Senators or Representative depends on how they voted. Just before recess, the House and the Senate each considered two bills: The Republican-sponsore d Protect America Act" (aka "Police America Act") (S 1927), which won in both houses, gave the White House exactly what it wanted. It gave the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence increased powers to conduct surveillance on Americans. The two bills sponsored by the Democrats (HR 3356 and S 2011), which lost, sought to appease the by going only so far, and no further. However, even that compromise went too far!
In some districts, newly elected Democrats who were sent to , to stop the war in Iraq actually voted for the PAA. In other places, Democrats and Republicans voted purely along partisan lines. No one who supported any of the bills was voting to restore the Bill of Rights, which has been so severely undermined since this so-called "war on terror" began.
So, first, check to see how your representatives voted. Here are the roll calls:
S 1927 (the Republican-sponsore d bill that passed in the Senate)
S 1927 (the Republican-sponsore d bill that passed in the House)
S 2011 (the Democrat-sponsored bill that failed in the Senate)
HR 3356 (the Democrat-sponsored bill that failed in the House)
3. Organize people to come out to the meeting with you. Let allies know that you are going, alert the media, and let us know too (contact West@bordc.org or East@bordc.org). Today is the time to strategize about how you want to approach your representative so that you can be most effective. Let us know what you're planning so that we can spread word among others in your area. See these BORDC webpages for more information.
Don't forget to take along a copy of the BORDC resolution book , a compilation of resolutions passed by towns, cities and states, upholding civil liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. We are currently updating the book and a revised version will be available on our website within the next week.
4. Take a few talking points with you.
- The President's warrantless wiretapping program went on illegally for 6 years. In January 2007, suddenly announced he would submit wiretap requests via the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Then in August, he insisted that Congress legalize warrantless wiretapping on disgraced Attorney General Gonzales' orders, completely removing even the slimmest oversight. Congress must hold the Administration accountable for its past law breaking, not legalize this illegal surveillance.
- According to the Congressional Research Service, Congress has made more than 50 changes to FISA since the law was originally passed in1978 including many updates since September 11, 2001. So, all the talk about FISA's antiquated dial-telephone laws needing to come into the 21st century is false. Because the U.S. is a communications hub, and overseas calls transit the U.S., the White House claimed it needed this law so it could continue its legal pursuit of wiretapping foreign calls. If that kind of change was needed, the bill could have consisted of this simple sentence: "No warrant shall be required under FISA if the sole basis for issuing the warrant is that the communication would transit the US."
- When the government subjects Americans' phone calls to massive and non-specific wiretaps, it may also be sharing our calls with other governments or entities. Before considering a change in the law, Congress should have asked: "Has the National Security Agency ever lost control of its surveillance system?" For a fuller account of this potential risk, see NPR's "Wiretapping in the Digital Age" (August 17, 2007).
- Though the law is set to expire in six months, the Attorney General's wiretapping orders can last for a year.
- We know from long experience that occasionally, government officials make errors or act maliciously. Without oversight from another branch of government, the risks to our liberties are too great. Currently, there is no oversight outside the executive branch, and we know from the widespread misuse and abuse of National Security Letters that checks and balances are crucial to maintaining honest government.
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Harry Reid have said they'll make changes in the law that was hurriedly passed in August -- when they return to D.C. in September. But a few changes here and there are not enough! Until our Congress demands accountability, and restores checks and balances, we will continue to live in fear that our government is looking over our shoulder. So, Congress must get tough on restoring our Bill of Rights now!
- must be compelled to release documents created by White House, National Security Agency and Department of Justice lawyers justifying the so-called "Terrorist Surveillance Program." The American people have the right to know how this executive branch legally justified warrantless surveillance against its own people.
- 412 local governments have passed resolutions opposing government overreaches of power, unwarranted searches, and detentions without trial. It's time the Congress heeds the will of the American people, and starts restoring civil liberties lost during the past 6 years.