Feb 18, 2008

Facts behind Sunset of Protect America Act; Byrd was Right, Rockefeller Wrong

Good summary here of what just happened: Constitution 1, Bush Government 0.
The best quote is from none other than Senator Byrd, who also puts perspective on it, and unlike Rockefeller (who should now be opposed by Democrats in West Virginia), voted against continuing the anti-constitutional surveillance powers. House leader Pelosi for once was right on the mark, and the Constitution defended, to the people's benefit. Why is the Constitution so often neglected instead of defended like this?

Defending the Constitution and individual liberty is both a duty and part of the republican platform, yet many republicans continue to bow to the tyrant's plea of "necessity". For a republican Constitutional analysis of the Protect America Act see the article here.

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
-- 4th Amendment, U.S. Constitution

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Quote of the Day:

"Is it any wonder why the approval ratings of the Congress go up every time we go into recess?"
-- Sen. Robert C. Byrd (Democrat West Virginia)

Subject: Victory at sunset

Downsizers sent 47,034 messages to Congress about the so-called "Protect America Act" (PAA). Most of these messages asked Congress to repeal PAA or allow it to sunset.

Three days ago, on Wednesday, we wrote to tell you that the Senate had done the exact opposite of what you requested.
  • They did not repeal PAA.
  • They did not allow it to sunset.
  • They did not pass the amendments we requested that would have made the replacement for PAA less bad.
  • Instead, they passed a bill permitting warrantless spying on Americans, and granting immunity to the telecommunications companies that had previously spied on Americans. But . . .
We asked you to hit Congress once again, specifically asking the House to not do as the Senate had done.
  • We got what we wanted.
  • The Democrats in the House finally showed some backbone.
  • They refused to take action on a replacement for PAA.
  • This means that PAA sunsetted out of existence at midnight on Friday.
Victory at sunset!

Speaker Pelosi also had some good things to say as she announced the sunset of PAA. She pointed out that the government still retains all the powers it needs to spy on suspected terrorists under the old FISA law, which remains in place. She also talked about the need for the government, and the telecommunications companies, to operate under the rule of law.

You see, Congress may mostly do bad things, but not always. It's important to understand that we can never expect them to do the right thing if we don't tell them what we want. Your 47,034 messages to Congress were important in encouraging the House to do the right thing.

And other things we've done may also have contributed. Downsizers have also sent . . .
All of these messages have communicated to Congress that they must not destroy American freedoms for the sake of combating the threat of terrorism.

You are to be congratulated for the part you played in this outcome. But . . .

As the sun sets, it also rises, and there will certainly be attempts by some to restore warrantless spying and immunity for the telecommunications companies. We will have to remain vigilant. I am confident that we -- that you -- will do that.

Please send Congress a message praising the House for allowing PAA to sunset, and ask the Senate to forgo any further action on replacing PAA. You can send your message here.

Thank your for being a part of the growing Downsize DC Army.

Jim Babka
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

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