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National Call-in Day to Repair the USA PATRIOT Act

National Call-in Day to Repair the USA PATRIOT Act

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Thank you for all your calls and visits to Congress, your resolutions, and your other actions to defend civil liberties. In December, a bipartisan group of senators stopped a bill that would have reauthorized expiring PATRIOT Act provisions from coming to a vote because it failed to safeguard essential civil liberties. In anticipation of the new February 3 deadline for the PATRIOT Act's reauthorization, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee has designated January 25, 2006, as National PATRIOT Act Call-In Day. Dozens of other organizations are joining us (see below).What to do: Please join this effort by calling Congress this Wednesday, January 25th, and ask your friends to do the same.

Dial the Capitol switchboard, 202-224-3121, and ask the operator to connect you (24 hours a day) or
Enter your zip code here to find your legislators' direct Washington office phone numbers.

To find their district office numbers, click on their names or call your local library.

Please phone both your Senators and your Representative. Ask your member 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.

Other talking points: If you want to make additional points, here are a few suggestions:

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 spying 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.

Can't get through right away? 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.

Find additional resources at the Bill of Rights Defense Committee web site: here.

Other organizations supporting the call-in day (partial list) include the 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, First Amendment Foundation, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Global Exchange, League of United Latin American Citizens, League of Women Voters, Liberty Coalition, MoveOn.org Political Action, National Lawyers Guild, People For the American Way, Rights Working Group, San Francisco Labor Council, Unitarian Universalist Association, and United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.