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Say No to New PATRIOT Spying Powers!

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#1 spy1


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Posted 27 May 2005 - 10:05 AM


"The Senate Intelligence Committee is currently considering a draft bill that would not only renew the USA PATRIOT Act's worse provisions, but would also expand the government's power to secretly demand the private records of people who aren't suspected of any crime - without a judge's approval.

The Justice Department already has dangerously broad subpoena powers under the USA PATRIOT Act. PATRIOT Section 215 allows intelligence investigators to demand all kinds of private records about citizens who aren't suspected of spying or terrorism. PATRIOT Section 505, meanwhile, expanded the government's ability to use "National Security Letters" to secretly obtain data on private online and financial activities without court oversight or probable cause.

The new bill not only makes these highly controversial provisions permanent, it marries the worst aspects of the two, allowing new "administrative subpoenas" in national security cases that would let the government secretly demand all types of records without a judge's permission.

The Justice Department tried to get this super-charged subpoena power inserted into PATRIOT back in 2001. But even in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Congress refused to allow this kind of unchecked surveillance power.

If you are a resident of Kansas, Utah, Ohio, Missouri, Maine, Nebraska, Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia, Michigan, California, Oregon, Indiana, Maryland, or New Jersey, your senator is on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Contact them below."

Folks, this is happening right now, so it is very important that - if you live in one of the states mentioned above - you contact your Reps via the included mechanism in that page right now!

It's so like them to do this kind of thing right before a holiday weekend, when everyone's more concerned with holiday plans. Please don't let that tactic result in passage of this! Pete

Edited by spy1, 27 May 2005 - 10:35 AM.

A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."
--George Washington

#2 spy1


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Posted 27 May 2005 - 11:01 AM

ACLU Alert on same issue
A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."
--George Washington

#3 spy1


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Posted 28 May 2005 - 01:33 PM


I was a little dis-appointed that the only ones who could respond to that alert were the people who were constitutents of the Intelligence sub-committee members involved, so this morning I got up and got busy.

I went to this site: http://intelligence....gov/members.htm and copied all the names of the Senator's involved, then got their FAX numbers from here (or their websites): http://www.theorator.com/senate.html

Roberts - 202-224-3514
Hatch - 202-224-6331
Dewine - 202-224-6519
Lott - 202-224-2262
Snowe - 202-224-1946*
Hagel - 202-224-5213
Levin - 202-224-1388*
Feinstein - 202-228-3954
Mikulski - 202-224-8858
Corzine - 202-228-2197
Frist - 202-228-1264
Reid - 202-224-7327
Warner - 202-224-6295
Rockefeller - 202-224-7665
Bayh - 202-228-1377*
Bond - 202-224-8149
Wyden - 202-228-2717*
Chambliss - 202-224-0103

(Got either "A FAX didn't answer" or a busy signal with the ones marked with the * ).

And I got on my little HP all-in-one and sent every one of them the following note:

"Dear Senator,
I write to let you know that YOU swore to UPHOLD the Constitution - NOT side-step or help DESTROY it.

In light of that, you cannot in good conscience support the current regime's demand for expanded Patriot Act powers that would effectively out-right destroy/gut the 4th Amendment.

You can not, also, vote for anything BUT repeal of all the "Patriot" Act provisions that are due to sunset this December.

Do I live in your state? No. Do I have friends/family in your state? Yes. Are they all increasingly concerned with Constitutional and Bill of Rights issues and watching this closely and using it as a key deciding factor in how to vote next time around? YES.

Do THEY all have friends, relatives and neighbors whom they are getting interested in these types of issues?

You can take it to the bank.

We're watching."

(Feel free to c&p that one if you like). If you get some slow time while you're on the computer this weekend - drop them a line! Pete

#4 spy1


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Posted 30 May 2005 - 03:51 PM

Senate Committee Fails to Approve Expanded FBI Authority


"In a closed meeting yesterday, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence did not reach consensus on legislation that would reauthorize sunsetting provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act and increase the FBI's investigative powers. EPIC had urged the committee in a statement to carefully consider each sunsetting provision of the USA PATRIOT Act before voting to reauthorize, and not to expand the FBI's investigative powers unless the agency can show a need for more authority. EPIC also joined more than twenty organizations opposing an expansion of FBI authority to allow the law enforcement agency to demand records in national security investigations with no judicial approval. For more information, see EPIC's USA PATRIOT Act page."

#5 spy1


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Posted 05 June 2005 - 10:13 AM

According to this newsletter: http://www.cdt.org/p...licyposts/11/12 , the fact that they didn't reach consensus on the legislation last time doesn't mean it's over:

"The Senate Intelligence Committee recently met in private to draft
legislation that would expand the FBI's powers under the PATRIOT
Act-giving the FBI administrative subpoena power and the ability to
copy the outside of letters and mailings without approval of the US
Postal Service. The committee failed to reach a consensus and will
reconvene on June 7 for another drafting session."

So - if you haven't already made your feelings known one way or the other using the links or the FAX #'s I posted - there's still time.

And it's still very necessary. Once the spotlight comes off this and everyone allows themselves to go back to sleep, it'll get passed behind our backs if we're not careful.

The most effective thing we can do is to let them know that we are watching! Pete

#6 spy1


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Posted 07 June 2005 - 11:53 AM

A.C.L.U contact alert

They're urging (and providing a way to get the number) people to call their Reps, which is understandable. If you're willing to take the time and actually pay for the call, it means you're serious. Pete

#7 spy1


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Posted 07 June 2005 - 11:10 PM

Senate committee OKs new FBI powers
Tuesday, June 7, 2005 Posted: 9:16 PM EDT (0116 GMT)


Just heard it on the radio on the way home from work.

Thank you for trying.

Now you know why we have to. Pete

#8 spy1


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Posted 08 June 2005 - 11:37 AM

Since the issue is now more-than-likely going to be moved to the Senate Judiciary Committee, here's that FAX #:

Fax: (202) 224-9102

This is the copy of the FAX I just sent them (feel free to use it, or send the message of your choice, of course):

"Dear Judiciary Committee Member
The Senate Intelligence Committee recently placed their seal of approval on granting "administrative subpoena" powers to the F.B.I., and it would also would make permanent intelligence-related sections of the USA Patriot Act that are scheduled to expire at the end of the year.
This, in my opinion, was a totally ignorant (at best) act on their part, caused by government pressure and a sad lack of appreciation of the consequences of their action.
At worst, it was treasonous due to the fact that it totally destroys the 4th Amendment rights guaranteed to legal, innocent U.S. citizens by the U.S. Constitution.
The side-stepping of the "sunset" provisions written in to the original 'patriot" act is nothing less than the government's glaring dis-regard of the wishes of its' citizens - the majority of whom want them sun-setted - the "sunset" provisions were written in there to begin with because they were so apparently Constitution/freedom and privacy-destroying.
That has not changed - and it is now up to you to correct this government power grab.
I ask for nothing less than complete reversal of the "Intelligence" (and I use that term loosely) Committee's recommendations.
Because our Constitution and our Bill of Rights demands that course on your part.

If you can't send a bunch of FAX'es (I'll be fax'ing them all, individually) - can you send at least one to let them know your wishes?

They are also trying to completely side-step all the provisions that were due to come up in December by killing that now - do you realize that?

If allowed to go into effect un-challenged, these "requests" by the F.B.I will permanently alter the actual fiber of America.

Will you please help before it's too late? Pete
A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."
--George Washington

#9 spy1


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Posted 09 June 2005 - 10:56 AM

I got all the FAX #'s for all the members of the Judiciary sub-committee that's going to be hearing this:

KYL, AR - 202-224-2207
Hatch, UT - 202-224-6331
Grassley, IA - 202-224-6020
Cornyn, TX - 202-228-2856
DeWine,OH - 202-2246519
Sessions, AL - 202-224-3149
Graham, SC - 202-224-3808
Feinstein, CA - 202-228-3954
Kennedy, MA - 202-224-2417
Biden, DE - 202-224-0139
Kohl, WI - 202-224-9787
Feingold, WI - 202-224-2725
Durbin, IL - 202-228-0400

All those numbers are good - because I fax'ed every single one of them with the message I posted above and they all went through.

Got some time? Want to help? Pick a number. This is especially important to do if one of the committee members is from YOUR state! Pete

Hi there! Read this yet?


Or this one?

Bush pushes for Patriot Act Pete

#10 spy1


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Posted 10 June 2005 - 12:05 PM

I've just realized that the House of Representatives also has their own Judiciary Committee! (All their FAX #'s follow):

Coble, (NC) - 202-225-8611
Lungren (CA) - 202-226-1298
Green (WI) - 202-225-5729
Feeney (FL) - 202-226-6299
Chabot (OH) - 202-225-3012
Keller (FL) - 202-225-0999
Flake (AZ) - 202-226-4386
Pence (IN) - 202-225-3382
Forbes (VA) - 202-226-1170
Gohmert (TX) - 202-225-5866
Scott (VA) - 202-225-8354
Lee (TX) - 202-225-3317
Waters (CA) - 202-225-7854
Meehan (MA) - 202-226-0771
Delahunt (MA) - 202-225-5658
Weiner (NY) - ?

I'm stressing FAX'es because they're immediate (and cheaper than phone calls if you're out-of-state).

However, if some of the names on that list are from your state, then the individual names can be found on this page: http://judiciary.hou...spx?committee=6 - when you click on each name, you can then find their web-site link, which will contain their phone numbers (and also either an email address or a web-form to contact them with if you can't FAX or phone directly).

USE this info, okay? President Bush has sworn to get this stuff into effect prior to the next 9/11 anniversary (if not a lot sooner!) - regardless of the wishes of the American people.

So you need to act!

And, BTW - are you getting friends, neighbors and family members interested in this? You should be. Point them towards this thread. Pete

#11 spy1


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Posted 08 July 2005 - 11:08 AM

The A.C.L.U is asking all interested individuals to go online and sign their petition, here:


The purpose of the petition is mainly to let the government know how many actual individuals are concerned with - and want changes made - to the 'patriot' act.

While I don't usually hold with the "online petition" route, in this case I went ahead and signed it (with all applicable information fully included to validate my "signature" ).

If you feel strongly about this issue, then I suggest you do the same.

(You might want to make sure you UN-check the box that says "Sign me up for ActForChange" . Pete

#12 spy1


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Posted 12 July 2005 - 09:03 AM


"Permanent Patriot Act Proposed

The Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee introduced a bill yesterday that would make the controversial USA Patriot Act permanent, but he balked at including some new powers sought by the Bush administration.

The bill proposed by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) largely gives the Justice Department what it has requested in the review of the Patriot Act antiterrorism law, which was enacted weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The proposal includes 16 provisions set to expire at the end of this year unless they are renewed or made permanent by Congress.

But the proposed legislation does not go as far as legislation approved in June by the Senate intelligence committee, which voted to make it easier for the FBI to open mail and issue subpoenas without a judge's approval in terrorism probes. Sensenbrenner's bill also calls for stronger oversight of some of the government's powers.

The fate of both the House and Senate measures is uncertain: Sensenbrenner's bill is likely to come under heavy fire from Democrats during a mark-up session tomorrow, while the Senate Judiciary Committee is considering its own bill as a counterpoint to the Senate intelligence committee's version.

The House as a whole voted by a wide margin last month to curtail the FBI's ability under the Patriot Act to seize library and bookstore records for terrorism investigations.

Jeff Lungren, a spokesman for Sensenbrenner, said in a briefing with reporters yesterday that the chairman's proposal "is a pretty straightforward bill" that could go to the House floor as early as next week.

But Lisa Graves, a senior counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, called Sensenbrenner's proposal "a flawed bill" that includes only "minimal changes" that the Justice Department has already conceded.

"Although the House Judiciary Committee's base bill does not expand the Patriot Act in the unwise and unwarranted way the Senate Intelligence Committee proposed, it can and must be modified to ensure that Patriot powers are focused on terrorists and not ordinary Americans," Graves said in a statement.

The Patriot Act has come under fire from civil liberties advocates and lawmakers concerned about possible abuses. President Bush and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales have pressed for the law's renewal, arguing that it provides vital tools to FBI agents and others seeking to prevent terrorist attacks.

The House Judiciary Committee has held a dozen hearings on various provisions of the law since April, including some that have highlighted tensions between the two parties. On June 10, for example, Sensenbrenner gaveled one hearing to a close and walked out even as Democrats continued to testify with the microphones off.

Sensenbrenner's bill would repeal expiration dates on all the provisions of the Patriot Act that are scheduled to sunset at the end of this year. Those include a controversial section that allows the FBI to obtain without a warrant a wide range of records from financial companies and other institutions, including libraries, in terrorism probes. The bill also makes permanent two separate provisions from last year's intelligence reform package that clarified the definition of "material support" for terrorism and made it easier to monitor "lone wolf" suspects unaffiliated with a terrorist group or country.

But the proposal also would tighten some of the requirements that must be met by the FBI in obtaining business records and would establish a judicial review process that allows a judge to set them aside. Gonzales testified in April that the provision has never been used to obtain library, medical, bookstore or gun sale records, but said it is an essential tool for the FBI.

Sensenbrenner's bill also would increase the duration of secret warrants governing searches and surveillance in terrorism and intelligence cases."

If it's "never been used" - then why is it "essential"? Are they not quite ready to take away our guns yet?

If you haven't contacted your Reps by now, this is the time to do so. Sensenbrenner's bill will ensure the bypassing of the sunsetting of any of the provision's of the 'patriot' act and extend the duration of secret warrants.

I can promise you this - if you don't let your voice be heard right now, this thing is going to sail through.

The "sunset" provisions were made that way for the very good reason that each and every provision so designated needed that option - and bare in mind that they were made with the sunset provision included because - even in the heat of the aftermath of 9/11 - lawmaker's knew both that they were subject to abuse and that they were Constitution-destroying.

You can either lie there and take this or you can get involved, the choice is yours.



will get you the names, phone numbers and FAX numbers of your Senator's and Representatives. Pick up the phone, fire off a FAX, send an email.

Tell them that you want Sensenbrenner's bill (and any bill like it) defeated - and that you believe that none of the 'patriot' act provisions should be applicable to legitimate American citizens.

We don't deserve this. Pete

#13 spy1


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Posted 13 July 2005 - 01:10 PM

The A.C.L.U has provided this page:


for those who wish to make their feelings known before this goes to a vote (probably next week). When I used my full zipcode, it sent emails to both my Senators and my Congressman.

It doesn't matter if you've already sent one like this - send it again! Pete

#14 spy1


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Posted 15 July 2005 - 09:22 AM

Let me quote you some portions of the NY Times article that came out after the latest Judiciary Committee meeting (I'll bold the most important points for emphasis):

"In a day of wide-ranging debate over the future of the act, Mr. Specter and Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, introduced a bill that would require greater judicial oversight for certain surveillance activities and put a four-year "sunset" on two sections of the law, including a provision that allows the government to demand library and medical records in intelligence investigations.

While their bill would permanently extend 14 provisions of the act that are set to expire at the end of this year, it would require Congressional renewal in 2009 (! FIVE YEARS? ) for the library provision and for a separate section related to roving wiretaps.

The Justice Department, which has backed a separate plan by the Senate Intelligence Committee giving the Federal Bureau of Investigation broader antiterrorism powers, said it was reviewing Mr. Specter's proposal.

But a senior department official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of sensitive political negotiations, said the department was troubled by several elements of the proposal, including provisions to raise the standard needed to obtain approval for certain types of surveillance and a public accounting of how often such powers are used. A Republican Senate aide, also speaking on condition of anonymity for the same reason, said Justice Department officials had already expressed their concerns privately and were "freaked out" by the prospect of greater restrictions on records.

In the House, the Intelligence Committee, in approving its renewal of the Patriot Act, passed a measure Wednesday that, in contrast to the White House position, would place a five-year limit on a provision of the law that enables investigators to eavesdrop on suspected "lone wolf" terrorists. The committee also toughened rules on roving wiretaps, which are used as suspects switch telephone numbers.

And in the House Judiciary Committee, lawmakers were moving through a series of amendments to that panel's version of the law in an effort to bring legislation before the full House next week. The committee also bucked the White House and put in similar 10-year sunset (! 10 years! A DECADE before the next review?? ) requirements on provisions that make it easier to obtain library records and use roving wiretaps.

Republicans on both panels beat back Democratic efforts to put more controls on the act, including a provision that would have made it harder for federal investigators who lack hard evidence to gather private records on individuals they suspect are working on behalf of a foreign power.

Representative Jerrold L. Nadler, Democrat of New York, sought to require federal agents seeking such records to demonstrate "specific and articulable facts" showing that the suspect could be a foreign agent. Republicans said that threshold was too high given that the special surveillance powers were intended to catch terrorists before they strike.

For the most part, the measures headed for the House floor would retain the broad investigative powers granted by Congress after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. "

None of the proposals being considered are even remotely acceptable. All would make permanent the majority of the provisions that are supposed to sunset.

Of the ones that they retain a "sunset" clause on, the time period between re-visiting the clauses ranges from 5-to-10 years. (This allows a whole generation of kids to grow up never having known anything but the repression of their freedom and a central government executive branch that wields un-limited power. What are the chances that they will be able to do something about rot so deeply entrenched?).

I find it highly enlightening (and deeply disturbing) that the government is absolutely frantic about not wanting to have to adhere to any evidentiary standard at all when using their power to pick apart your life - it's their complete break from being controlled in any fashion by the Judiciary Branch of government (the Constitution was framed as it was to prevent this from happening, which is why I consider the entire Patriot Act to be un-Constitutional).

If we let this pass, there's no doubt whatsoever that the F.B.I will be granted "administrative subpoena" power and that ISP's will be required to keep detailed logs on everyone's Internet activities - IOW, it's "end-game" time.

The Constitution and the Bill of Rights will cease to be meaningful documents in any context of an American citizens life - they'll become a historical curiousity.

If you do not want this to happen, then I urge you to right now use all of the following links to contact your Representatives and Congressmen about your feelings (do it now - do not wait - this is probably going to go down next week! ).




After you do that, I'd like you to consider going to the "Action Center" link on this page: http://www.eff.org/ and responding to every single "Action Item" that has to do with the 'patriot' act and digital rights in general.

It is time to send a clear message that we're not happy about this - and to send that message loud and clear in over-whelming numbers.

It is probably our last chance to do so. Pete

#15 spy1


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Posted 20 July 2005 - 09:23 AM

From my CDT newsletter:

"The House is scheduled to meet this Thursday, July 21 to vote on H.R.
3911, the PATRIOT Act Reauthorization Bill. Call your member of
Congress and urge him or her to oppose any expansion of the PATRIOT Act
and to support reasonable safeguards, such as those found in the SAFE
Act, a bipartisan bill that restores much-needed checks and balances to
protect the constitutional rights of American citizens."

You can use this link: http://www.cdt.org/action/patriot/ to find out your Reps name and phone no. (C.D.T urges people to call their Reps).

This is the main points of the A.C.L.U's opposition to all of the bills currently being considered:

"Although two House committees approved Patriot Act reauthorization bills last week, only cosmetic changes were made. Specifically, under Section 213 of the act, the federal government would still have the power to get a court order to secretly search any Americanís home or business without notifying them of the search for months or longer and without showing any link between that person and terrorism. And Sections 215 and 505 would still allow the federal government to search medical, financial, and even gun records without ever showing any facts connecting those records to a foreign terrorist. The recipient of one of these demands under Sections 215 and 505 are subject to a permanent, automatically imposed gag order. The Sensenbrenner bill is so severely flawed that it gives a procedural right to challenge but then sets a standard for such challenges that renders them virtually worthless, and there is no right to challenge the permanent secrecy requirement."

You may also use their facilities to contact your Reps:


FAX numbers for contacting your Reps can be had here and here:



if you'd rather compose your own message (or to copy and paste either the A.C.L.U or another message into the FAX).

This is happening tomorrow, people - if you haven't already made your voice heard on this issue either way, you need to do so right now . Pete

#16 spy1


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Posted 22 July 2005 - 09:06 AM

Read Sen. Patrick Leahy's response here:


and read the A.C.L.U's response here:


(please do read that one, as it's a fine summation of exactly what got chopped and what got rammed through)

The fact that no "up or down votes" were allowed on the various proposed amendments to H.R. 3199 is what has prevented this bill from being any more than a watered-down version of what it should have been.

The A.C.L.U has provided a means to let your Representatives know that H.R. 3199 isn't good enough - please use it!


They want this thing to be a done deal before the August recess - and there is only me and thee to stop them. Pete

#17 spy1


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Posted 29 July 2005 - 10:16 AM

A.C.L.U update on the 'patriot' act:

"Patriot Act Update from Anthony D. Romero

Thanks to the dedication of activists like all of you, we're making progress on the Patriot Act. Last week, the House of Representatives voted 257-to-171 to reauthorize most of the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act, and it added additional 10-year "sunset" provisions on two of the most contentious sections (including Section 215, known as the "library records" provisions, but which really applies to any "tangible thing").

Although the vote itself was unfortunate, what it represents is encouraging. First, the margin of victory was a dramatic improvement (nearly 200% better) than the 357-to-66 vote in the House on the original Patriot Act. Republicans like Rep. Dana Rohrabacher from Orange County, California, bucked their party leadership to vote against the reauthorization. The public concern that keeps you on this e-mail list has certainly been heard on Capitol Hill.

Second, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a reauthorization bill to the floor that takes a step forward compared with what the House passed last week, although the ACLU has not endorsed that bill. The Senate Judiciary bill includes some reforms to the most far-reaching sections of the Patriot Act, including Section 215, so that federal agents would have to at least show some specific facts to get an order for personal records. While that does not go far enough to cure the civil liberties flaws in that provision it is an improvement over current law as reflected in the House bill and that the federal government can get a court order for personal records on a simple assertion that it is sought for or relevant to an intelligence investigation.

That progress is due directly to you. It's due to the 400 community resolutions, and the seven statewide bills, calling for Patriot Act reform. It's because Americans understand the need to protect our Constitution, especially in times of crisis. It's because groups like the ACLU won't simply defer to the Bush administration when it says "trust us, we're the government."

The final chapter in the Patriot Act debate has yet to be written. We hoped the Senate bill would be taken up on the floor this week for a debate and vote. Because of unrelated legislative drama, it remains unclear whether that will happen. Once it does, however, the fight will turn to advancing modest improvements in the law to protect our civil liberties and strenuously opposing efforts to keep the Patriot Act the same or make it worse, and we'll also press to expand the sunsets so these flawed powers do not become a permanent part of our law.
You can be sure that we will keep up the pressure so long as you continue to give us your support. Together we can bring the Patriot Act in line with the Constitution by including essential checks and balances on abuse.

For the most up to date information on the fight to reform the Patriot Act, please visit the new ACLU Reform the Patriot Act blog ( http://action.aclu.o...nlc8mYIRko7z2g.. ). Lisa Graves, our top legislative strategist on the Patriot Act, has been giving us the scoop straight from Capitol Hill. Hope to see you there!

Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director "

E.F.F. alert on the final bill:

"House Votes for PATRIOT Act Renewal -
Don't Let the Senate Make the Same Mistake!

The battle over the USA PATRIOT Act has reached a crisis
point. The House has already passed a bill to renew many
of PATRIOT's most dangerous, privacy-corroding provisions
without meaningful safeguards to prevent abuse. Unless
you act now, the Senate could make the same mistake.

The current Senate bill, S. 1389, contains new checks on
two notorious PATRIOT provisions: Section 215 - the
"library records" provision - and Section 505, which
allows FBI-issued National Security Letters (NSLs)
that a federal court has already found unconstitutional.
But there's no guarantee that these checks will survive
debate on the floor. What's worse, there's no
guarantee that the Senate won't include additional
language to expand PATRIOT even further.

Tell your Senators to let these dangerous provisions
expire and introduce new checks to protect your rights!

Make your voice heard with the EFF Action Center:

More about PATRIOT Sections 215, 505, and the other
"sunset" provisions:

The train is fixing to leave the station on this one, folks - don't be left behind.

Contact your reps again whether you already have or not! Pete

#18 spy1


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Posted 31 July 2005 - 09:15 AM

"Senate Votes to Make Permanent Most Expiring Parts of Patriot Act"


WASHINGTON ó The GOP-controlled Senate voted Friday to make permanent most of the expiring provisions of the anti-terrorist USA Patriot Act (search).

Senators, however, set new four-year expiration dates on the most controversial provisions of the law, those allowing federal agents to use roving wiretaps and to search library and medical records.

The passage of the Senate legislation, which was by voice vote minutes before the chamber left for a month-long summer break, sets up a fall confrontation with the Republican-controlled House, which wanted 10-year expirations, or sunsets, on those two provisions.

The House and the Senate will try to negotiate a compromise bill to send to President Bush before December, when 16 provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire.

The roving wiretap provision allows investigators to obtain warrants to intercept a suspect's phone conversations or Internet traffic without limiting investigators to a specific phone or requiring them to identify the suspect. The records provision authorizes federal officials to obtain "tangible items" such as business, library and medical records.

"The Patriot Act is a uniquely valuable piece of legislation for this unparalleled time in Americas history, and its provisions will help keep us safe and defeat the hidden terrorist cells operating here in America," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (search), R-Tenn.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid (search) of Nevada said "like all compromises, it includes provisions that are not supported by everyone in this body. However, Democratic and Republican members of the Judiciary Committee came together in a spirit of cooperation and compromise to agree on this bill, and I strongly support it."

The Senate also had a competing Patriot Act reauthorization bill that had been approved by the Intelligence Committee, which would give the FBI expanded powers to subpoena records without the approval of a judge or grand jury. That bill was not approved, however, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., threatened on Friday to hold up a final House-Senate version if negotiators restore the expanded FBI subpoena powers.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the Senate bill approved Friday was "imperfect" but "a good starting point, and is vastly better than its counterpart passed by the House." "

(From the A.C.L.U blog) : "This bipartisan bill was approved through a process called "unanimous consent," where the leaders of both parties get consent to take action on a measure and none of the other Senators object.

The good news is there were also no amendments to make the bill worse or try to strip out some of the modest improvements made to the Patriot Act.

Just this past Wednesday, the FBI was asking again for expanded powers to write its own search orders without any court approval in advance and without demonstrating to any court that there were any facts connecting any personal records sought to an agent of a foreign power.

This terrible idea, called "administrative subpoena" power by the Justice Department and called the FBI's "write-your-own-search-order" by us, was not embraced by the three other Committees in Congress that considered the Patriot Act (though an amendment by Congressman Flake on the House floor takes a step backward in that direction--more on that later).

Still, had the Specter bill not been approved by "UC," in the lingo of the Senate, it would have been subject to potentially unlimited amendments and debate unless there were consent by both parties to limit these or if "cloture" had been invoked (a Senate rule allowing a super majority to force a vote).

So, now the Senate bill goes to conference. This is the process for reconciling differences between bills passed by both houses of Congress about the same subject. We know the Senate conferees, but not the House ones yet. They are Chairman Specter and Chairman Roberts, as well Senators Hatch, DeWine, Kyl, Sessions, Leahy, Rockefeller, Kennedy, and Levin (members of either or both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees).

The ACLU and its allies across the nation still have a lot of work ahead of us to help ensure that in the conference committee of House and Senate members the modest improvements are not lost and that the worse provisions of the severely flawed House bill do not become the law."

So for right now, we get a break from this - after "summer break" is over, we'll have to start watching and calling and writing and FAX'ing again. To me, personally, neither bill is worth a **** - too many provisions that were supposed to "sunset" become permanent and some that I felt should have been made "sunset" provisions weren't. I think the "modest safeguards" in the current bill aren't nearly strongly worded enough, don't have enough over-sight and darn little hope of ever being considered actual recourse for anyone who comes under scrutiny for whatever reason.

But on balance and for this point in time I think we've done pretty well.

Is there any doubt in anyone's mind that the House version of the bill (including the requested "administrative subpoena power" for the F.B.I) would have sailed right straight through were it not for thousands of us screaming our heads' off to our legislator's about our concerns?

You and I STOPPED that from happening - and don't forget that fact for a moment, because it's true.

So enjoy the break - and take heart and keep an eye on the news, because we may be getting more help from this from the 'judiciary" side.

"Judge: Parts of Patriot Act Unconstitutional"


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