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Four Bills on Government Surveillance for Thursday Senate Judiciary Markup. What Do You Know?

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.

As of this morning, there are four bills representing different visions for reform of the government surveillance programs that have been used against Americans like you. They are:

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.

1 comment to Four Bills on Government Surveillance for Thursday Senate Judiciary Markup. What Do You Know?

  • Tom

    i’ve called Spector so often his number’s on my speed dial.
    He’s been surprising me lately (probably because he’s being opposed by Sestak for his seat next year and has to prove he’s a “reformed” Republican Senator).

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