News from the Bill of Rights Defense Committee:
The Senate Judiciary Committee caved in, but the people will not!
NORTHAMPTON, MA-The Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) expressed disappointment over the Senate Judiciary's approval today, on party-line votes, of two bills that would legalize President Bush's illegal warrantless wiretapping of Americans. The grassroots group vowed to continue mobilizing ordinary people around the country to call on their Senators to reject this unprecedented expansion of presidential power.
"Members of Congress have an obligation to protect their constituents from warrantless spying," said Nancy Talanian, BORDC's director. "The bills by Senators Arlen Specter and Mike DeWine that passed out of committee today are nothing more than legislative blank checks to the Bush administration that would allow warrantless surveillance to continue."
A third bill, Senator Dianne Feinstein's "Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Improvement and Enhancement Act of 2006" (S. 3001), would retain Fourth Amendment privacy protections while simplifying the process for obtaining warrants. It passed on a bipartisan vote, with Senator Specter and Senator Lindsey Graham joining the committee's eight Democrats.
Specter's "National Security Surveillance Act" (S. 2453) gives the president the option of having a secret court review the constitutionality of secret surveillance programs on a blanket basis, and makes the current requirement for individual warrants optional as well. It also opens the door to warrantless searches of homes. DeWine's "Terrorist Surveillance Program Act of 2006" (S. 2455) would relax the current law by, among other things, expanding from three days to 45 days the length of time an agency can wiretap telephone calls before a warrant is sought.
"The Specter and DeWine bills are attempts to put the genie back in the bottle for the administration, after the press uncovered an illegal wiretapping program that violates the rights of the American people," said Talanian. "We are urging the American people to tell their members of Congress to uphold our constitutional protections by preventing this legislation from moving forward."
The Bill of Rights Defense Committee (www.bordc.org) is a national nonprofit organization that encouranges ordinary people to take an active role in an ongoing national debate about the post-9/11 laws and orders that threaten civil liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.