As I mentioned yesterday, this Thursday — just two days from now — there will be a Senate Judiciary Committee markup meeting in which a bill to extend and reform warrantless surveillance powers will take shape and possibly be passed out of committee.
S. 1686, the JUSTICE Act. Introduced by Russell Feingold, this bill would most strongly place restrictions on warrantless surveillance of all four bills.
S. 1692, the USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act. Introduced by Patrick Leahy, this bill would introduce some weaker reforms while leaving intact government powers to spy on you and subject your identity to data mining without a warrant. It would further extend Patriot Act powers until the end of 2013.
S. 1725, a bill as yet without title or available text either in the Thomas database or the Congressional Record. Introduced by Christopher Dodd, this bill appears to be restricted to revoking criminal immunity from those telecommunications corporations that broke the law by surrendering Americans’ private information to the government without a warrant.
S. 1726, the USA PATRIOT Reauthorization and Additional Weapons Against Terrorism Act. Introduced by Jon Kyl and John Cornyn, this bill not only reauthorizes Patriot Act authorities without restrictions, but introduces further restrictions on Americans’ activities. Providing any help to anyone related to anyone who is involved in activities related to terrorism, for instance, would become a crime. Kyl and Cornyn would make it a crime to make any plans to go overseas to receive training from foreign militants. S. 1726 would also extend Patriot Act provisions to cover sex offenders. (see Congressional Record pages S. 9933 and S. 9934)
If you want to track the development of surveillance reform over the next few days, read up on these bills. For S. 1725 and S. 1726, the American people will have to wait until they are actually published, which may not be until there are less than 24 hours before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s markup. The bills’ various provisions may be combined in some way to produce a final bill that heads to the Senate floor.
Once you’ve informed yourself about the issues regarding upcoming surveillance reform (for more information, read here and here), contact Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee whose positions on surveillance reform have not been made clear. They are:
Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland. DC Office Phone #: 202-224-4524
Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. DC Office Phone #: 202-224-3841
Senator Al Franken of Minnesota. DC Office Phone #: 202-224-5641
Senator Ted Kaufman of Delaware. DC Office Phone #: 202-224-5042
Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. DC Office Phone #: 202-224-3244
Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin. DC Office Phone #: 202-224-5653
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. DC Office Phone #: 202-224-6542
Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. DC Office Phone #: 202-224-4254
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. DC Office Phone #: 202-224-2921
Is any of these Senators one of your senators? Inform yourself, then place a call.
As always, if you know something more about any of these four bills, I encourage you to leave a comment and help us all expand our information base in the limited time we have available.