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Oct. 26th, 2001

I've resolved to keep contemporary politics out of the TOTD. I'd do well to expel it from my consciousness as well, but I have thus far failed to make a concerted effort to do so.

This morning, I read the following from J.D. Tuccille:

It's fair to say that the civil liberties battle over the so-called "anti-terrorism" legislation was lost. After initially balking over concerns about privacy and due process, and first approving a watered-down measure, the House of Representatives passed a draconian version of a bill that allows police to secretly search the homes of suspects, tap all their cell and home phones and track their use of the Internet. The measure also eases the detention of suspects without charges.

The ACLU has created a thorough summary of the key provisions of the bill. Highlights include:

Permit the Attorney General to indefinitely incarcerate or detain non-citizens based on mere suspicion, and to deny re-admission to the United States of non-citizens (including lawful permanent residents) for engaging in speech protected by the First Amendment. [Note that detentions are technically limited to seven days, but can continue once deportation proceedings are set in motion -- and those can drag on for a long time]

Minimize judicial supervision of telephone and Internet surveillance by law enforcement authorities in anti-terrorism investigations and in routine criminal investigations unrelated to terrorism.

Expand the ability of the government to conduct secret searches -- again in anti-terrorism investigations and in routine criminal investigations unrelated to terrorism.
The Senate approved the same legislation by a lopsided 98-1 vote. This was no surprise since the upper house of Congress has enthusiastically pushed the more authoritarian version of the police powers legislation since the beginning. The final bill is essentially the Senate wish-list, with the addition of a clause that "sunsets" some of the powers in four years.

Russell Feingold was the only senator to oppose the measure.

President Bush is expected to sign the new police powers into law without delay.



Upon reading Tuccille's report, I sought out contact info for Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington State. I wrote each of them a short note. The letter to Cantwell contains the letter to Feingold, so I'll just post the message I sent to Senator Cantwell:

Dear Senator Cantwell,

I am upset by the fact that in the current frenzy to craft and pass legislation in the period of hysteria following the September 11th attacks, the only Senator to take a principled stand for the civil liberties and Constitutional protections that are the real treasure of US citizenship comes not from my home state of Washington, but from Wisconsin.

Here is the text of a letter I just wrote to Senator Feingold:

**************************************************************

Thank you, Senator Feingold, for casting the only vote against accelerating the United States' slide into police state status under the recent so-called "anti-terrorism" legislation.

With every expansion of police powers and every curtailment of the right of Americans to live free of capricious government surveillance and intrusion, the Federal government hands the September 11th criminals another victory. Thank you, once again, for standing in opposition to the tide of cowardice and political opportunism that seems to rule the United States Congress.

**************************************************************

Senator Cantwell, in order to submit this letter to you via your website, I had to select a topic from a list of choices that included "terrorism" but did not include "civil liberties." What conclusion should I draw from this omission concerning your priorities and agenda with respect to individual liberty and growing Federal hegemony?

I would appreciate any response you can provide to the concerns I have articulated.

Sincerely,

Kevin M. O'Connor
Port Ludlow, WA


I don't expect to hear back from Senator Feingold. Because I live in Washington State, I do expect to receive a form letter from Senator Cantwell's staff.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
raveen
Oct. 26th, 2001 03:33 pm (UTC)
Let us know what happens
I would be very interested in what our senator has to say....
crealm
Nov. 8th, 2001 11:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Let us know what happens
November 8, 2001



The Rev. Kevin O'Connor
46 Village Way
Suite #169
Port Ludlow, Washington 98365


Dear The Rev. O'Connor:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the anti-terrorism bill, The Uniting and Strengthening America (USA) Patriot Act, recently passed by the Senate. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

I would like first to apologize for the delay in this response. Due to continuing concerns about anthrax contamination and clean-up, my Washington D.C. office, located in the Hart Senate Office Building, was closed on October 17th and remains closed to date. In addition, the Senate has not received delivery of any written mail since October 15th.

As you may know, HR 3162, the USA Patriot Act passed the Senate on October 25th and was signed into law by President Bush on October 26th. This final piece of legislation represents a compromise bill between the Administration's original proposal and several House and Senate pieces of legislation.

I continue to be concerned that several provisions of the Act,
particularly those sections dealing with electronic eavesdropping, access to email communications, and computer trespass provide extremely broad new domestic surveillance powers to the law enforcement and intelligence communities.

I joined my colleagues in voting for the USA Patriot Act because I believe it contained many important provisions that will provide real help to law enforcement in fighting terrorism. These provisions include the tripling of the number of border patrol and INS and Customs inspectors on the northern border. It also includes a measure that I personally worked on that will require the development of a technology standard for visas. This standard will force agencies to work together on developing high technology visas and ensure better sharing of information between the Sate Department and the INS so that we can be sure that visa holders seeking to enter our country are who they say they are.

The USA Patriot Act also includes new money laundering requirements to better track and freeze financial assets of terrorists, increases the ability to prosecute terrorism conspiracies, and takes steps to improve information sharing between law enforcement and intelligence communities.

I fully supported the House's inclusion of a provision which makes the extended investigative powers authorized under the USA Patriot Act expire or "sunset" on December 31, 2005. At that time, I am confident that the Senate and House will thoroughly review the effectiveness and legitimacy of these new anti-terrorism measures and will determine their future necessity.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. I encourage you to keep in touch in the future on the issues that are important to you.

Sincerely,

Maria Cantwell
United States Senator

raveen
Nov. 9th, 2001 04:57 pm (UTC)
Re: Let us know what happens
Sounds like a load of shit... just a bunch of pep rally talk about the bill but not really addressing your concerns... especailly not the concern you had about being able to pick the topic off her website...
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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