Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Patriot Act Call In Day!

Sununnu is sneaky, trying to make the Patriot Act even more draconian. This must not stand.

Dear Friends,

The PATRIOT Act reauthorization
bill contains terrible new provisions that your senators and representative may not be aware of, and the Sununu amendments (S. 2271) contain superficial changes that do not protect our civil liberties.

On Tuesday 2/28 at 2:30 p.m. EST, the Senate will vote on the question of cloture on the reauthorization bill which, if passed, would close off further debate or filibuster on the bill. It is CRUCIAL that you call both of your senators and demand that they keep the debate open (click here to find contact information and expanded talking points). Ask them to stop the reauthorization process and vote against cloture. Make sure they know about the new provisions that:

* Establish a new uniformed police force for "special events of national significance," and expands the authority of the Secret Service by allowing them to arrest demonstrators at such events if they believe there has been a breach of a security perimeter. Demonstrators can be charged with a felony, with penalties of up to 10 years in prison. (This amendment was added to the conference report without any hearings or discussion.)
* Establish new death penalty crimes.

Today the Senate is debating S. 2271 (the Sununu amendments), negotiated with the White House, which make no substantive fixes to the reauthorization bill. The House will consider S. 2271 as early as this Thursday.

Call both of your senators and your representative and tell them that S. 2271 falls short of protecting civil liberties. After waiting more than four years, we demand and deserve real reform, not cosmetics. For example, this amendment:

* Requires businesses, medical professionals, and libraries that are served National Security Letters (NSLs) to wait 1 year before appealing the automatic, permanent "gag order."
* Does not fix the problem of penalties imposed on businesses that do not cooperate with requests, or the impossible hurdle on those who appeal NSLs to prove that the government acted in bad faith.
* Does not exempt libraries from National Security Letters if they act as Internet service providers. It exempts only libraries who simply give people access to the Internet.

Urge your senators and representative to support the following amendments offered by Senators Russ Feingold, Jeff Bingaman, and Patrick Leahy. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has so far refused to allow these amendments to come before the Senate for votes.

* Senate Amendment (SA) 2891 would add a four-year sunset on PATRIOT Act section 505, National Security Letters.
* SA 2892 would prevent the FBI from using section 215 for "fishing expeditions" by requiring a connection between records sought and a foreign terrorist or spy.
* SA 2893 would allow businesses and libraries to pose a meaningful challenge to a FISA Court order or a National Security Letter demanding customer records.
* SA 2894 would reduce initial notification deadline in section 213, "sneak and peek" searches, from 30 days to 7 days, while preserving the ability to go to court for extensions if needed.
* SA 2897 would make third-parties' ability to challenge gag orders more meaningful.

In summary, we want our senators and representatives to:

* Keep the debate going on the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act by voting against cloture (Senate only);
* Take out the new provisions of the PATRIOT Act;
* Vote against the Sununu amendments;
* Vote for (and urge their colleagues to vote for) the Feingold, Bingaman, Leahy amendments.

Thanks for all you do!

Bill of Rights Defense Committee

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