Bill of Rights Defense Campaign

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National PATRIOT Act Call-in Day:
Wednesday, January 25, 2006

In December 2005, a bipartisan group of senators filibustered to stop the passage of a PATRIOT Act reauthorization bill that did not protect civil liberties. Congress will take further action by February 3, 2006, to extend 16 PATRIOT Act provisions that will otherwise expire.

Recent news stories about warrantless National Security Agency wiretaps and spying on peaceful protestors show flagrant disregard for our privacy and free speech rights. As Congress prepares to reauthorize controversial portions of the PATRIOT Act and to add new sections, make sure your senators and representative hear from you!

Please join the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and dozens of other organizations concerned about civil liberties in a national call-in day to legislators.

Main message:

Please phone both your Senators and your Representative. Ask your members of Congress to work for a PATRIOT Act reauthorization bill that truly preserves free speech and privacy, and that restores checks and balances, including judicial review and much greater congressional oversight.

How to make a call:

  • Capitol switchboard: Dial 202-224-3121 and ask the operator to connect you (24 hours a day) or
  • Find your senators' and representative's direct phone numbers at http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/.

Other suggested talking points:

  • Prevent the FBI from “fishing” through our private purchase, medical, and library records by requiring a statement of fact linking persons whose records are sought to a terrorism investigation.
  • Allow businesses and libraries to pose a meaningful challenge to a FISA Court order or a National Security Letter demanding customer records.
  • In light of warrantless wiretapping of domestic email and phone communications authorized by the president, make sure there are sufficient privacy safeguards and oversight on all parts of the PATRIOT Act involving the executive branch (which includes the Department of Justice and the FBI).
  • Protect our first amendment rights by removing a proposed provision that would subject anyone who protests in cordoned-off areas at presidential appearances to prison sentences up to 10 years.
  • Eliminate proposed new death penalties from the reauthorization.
  • I’m not fooled by the administration’s fear-mongering or its arguments that there are partisan differences on these issues of security and liberty. Americans conservative and progressive know that our actions must be constrained by the rule of law, the Constitution, and checks and balances.
  • Now that we know the president has secretly authorized illegal, warrantless wiretaps, and the FBI and the Pentagon have spied on peaceful protest groups, Congress must immediately stop those actions and hold much more detailed investigations over the whole Patriot Act (not just the sunsetting provisions) before reauthorizing any part of the Patriot Act.
  • Although the Senate reauthorization bill is insufficient, it is a much better starting point than the House version or the Conference Report.
  • While I’m concerned about terror, if America becomes a fear-ridden police state, the terrorists will have won, so we must protect our fundamental rights and privacy above all.
  • Please work with your colleagues in Congress to take charge of the debate about how to protect us from terrorist threats without jeopardizing our civil liberties.

What to do if you get busy signals

It means that many people must be phoning Congress. Keep your calls coming! If you prefer not to wait, call the next day or phone the district office.

Other organizations supporting the call-in day (partial list):

Alliance for Justice, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Civil Liberties Union, American Library Association, Amnesty International USA, Campaign for Reader Privacy, Center for Democracy and Technology, Code Pink, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Democracy Rising US, DemocracyInAction, Friends Committee on National Legislation, First Amendment Foundation, Global Exchange, Justice for New Americans, League of United Latin American Citizens, League of Women Voters, Liberty Coalition, MoveOn.org Political Action, National Lawyers Guild, Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances, People For the American Way, ReclaimDemocracy, Rights Working Group, San Francisco Labor Council, True Majority, Unitarian Universalist Association, and United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.

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