Action Alerts

Just the facts, ma'am. Or at least just the action items. I just thought it would be a good thing to have a site dedicated solely to taking action and leave the pithy rhetoric to other blogs. Contacts: Senate, House and a way to FAX via the web!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Tell BLM "No Toxic Pesticides"

Tell BLM "No Toxic Pesticides"

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has proposed to apply massive amounts of pesticides to public lands in 17 Western states.

The BLM claims these pesticides need to be applied to forests, rangelands and aquatic areas in order to reduce the risk of fire and slow the spread of invasive weeds. Under the proposal 932,000 acres would undergo chemical application in 17 western states, including National Monuments and National Conservation areas.

An integral part of this proposal involves aerial spraying of toxic pesticides, which increases negative impacts on non-targeted vegetation, wildlife, and people, including recreationists, tourists, and native peoples (pesticide application areas include Alaska, where native fishing and plant gathering is widespread).

The pesticides that would be used include persistent and mobile chemicals, including known developmental and reproductive toxins.

Please sign the petition and pass this on!

hat tip to booman tribune

Read more!

Republican Quotes on the Rule of Law

Republican Quotes on the Rule of Law

The republican party firmly believes that no man is above the law; at least they did when Clinton's impeachment was being discussed. Now it's time to hold them to their words and demand that they hold shrubya accountable. See if any of your reps or senators had some choice words on the rule of law and remind them of their sworn duty.

Read more!

Campaign Donation Deadline: Dec. 31st

Campaign Donation Deadline: Dec. 31st

Late notice, I know. I just found this. There is a great diary over at dkos explaining the importance of making your political donations before the new year.

While finally getting around to my stack of holiday mail, I noticed a letter from a candidate I had donated to in the past. The note was reminding me that the federal campaign reporting quarter ends on December 31st, so it is important to get the money in before then.

It also lists a bunch of candidates who need support and provides links to donation pages. So if you were going to anyway...

Read more!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Impeach Bush Rallies - March, 2006

Impeach Bush Rallies - March, 2006

Mark your calendars! And visit They are coordinating impeachment rallies for the anniversary of the Iraq invasion.

So let's start spreading the word and building momentum. Be sure to check out the Guerrilla Marketing: Impeachment project, too! Lots of great ideas for swaying the apathetic. The best being that you can embed your own messages into any asphalt surface!

More impeachment resources here. To add the "Impeach Bush" banner to your website, click here.

Read more!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Anti-Alito Brigade For Justice, Day 12!

Anti-Alito Brigade For Justice, Day 12!

This is the last one in the series - print them all up to hand out as booklets if you'd like. And don't forget Senator Boxer's petition. She is asking Arlen Specter to hold hearings on spygate before addressing Alito's nomination.

Today's Alito piece is about Alito's support for broad executive branch powers. Would he have a problem with domestic spying?

If you're not sure what this Alito stuff is about, visit this diary.

Read more!

Make Bush Show Us His Papers

Make Bush Show Us His Papers

See how he likes it...

Rep. Slaughter has introduced a resolution demanding access to all the documents pertaining to spying on Americans. Urge your Congressmembers to support her.

And don't miss all the other resolutions/petitions, etc. for spygate.

Read more!

Guerrilla Marketing Impeachment Campaign

Guerrilla Marketing Impeachment Campaign

Turn it into stickers, posters, etc. and apply liberally! And check it out - you can embed your own messages into asphalt!

Read more!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I Spy: Impeachment

I Spy: Impeachment

Even conservative scholars say so. And don't miss Rep. John Conyers' call to action, The Constitution in Crisis: Censure and Investigate Possible Impeachment.

Also, Guerrilla Marketing is good for you!

Read more!

Anti-Alito Brigade For Justice, Day 9!

Anti-Alito Brigade For Justice, Day 9!

Today's "Alito is bad for America" moment is brought to you by BostonJoe.

Dear Senator,

The United States Supreme Court has struggled through the decades to live up to the promise that America is a land where "all men are created equal." From an early history that treated African-Americans as property and later allowed for legal segregation, the Court has evolved through the Civil Rights era to support equality for all races in the eyes of the law. We have still not met the full promise of our founding fathers, but the Court has made substantial progress.

In examining the judicial record and personal history of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, I am concerned that he has expressed opinions which would set back much of the progress that has been made by the Court in assuring the equality that should be our highest ideal. My concerns are shared by the 42 House members of the Congressional Black Caucus:

"The Congressional Black Caucus, which includes 42 House members... will announce Thursday its opposition to Alito.... 'The members of the CBC are concerned about Judge Alito's opinions, many in dissent, in race cases where his decisions have disproportionately affected African-Americans,' said Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., the caucus chairman. 'We are troubled by what appears to be a very conservative judicial philosophy that seems greatly at odds with much of 20th century constitutional jurisprudence,' Watt said." - Associated Press, December 7, 2005.

There is also an excellent diary over at political cortex: Alito Gives the Congressional Black Caucus the Finger.

Contact your senators, support the CBC, and if you have the resources, please collect all 12 of these letters when they are done and share them as booklets with people.

Read more!

Sign Dean's FOIA Petition

Sign Dean's FOIA Petition

He is still speaking for us!

According to reports, political appointees in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel wrote still-classified legal opinions laying out the supposed justification for this program.

Governor Howard Dean is filing a formal demand that they release these documents. You can add your name to a Freedom of Information Act request by providing the information below.

great diary at dkos, too

Read more!

Calls To Investigate Spying

Calls To Investigate Spying

We have several to choose from!

Senator Barbara Mikulski

Rep. Louise Slaughter

Howard Dean's FOIA petition

Act for Change has a petition to sign

Also, please sign Senator Boxer's petition. She is asking Arlen Specter to hold hearings on spygate before addressing Alito's nomination.

On the impeachment front, we've got:

Impeach - Guerrilla Marketing Movement

Senator Boxer asks four presidential historians to research if Bush is impeachable, as per John Dean.

And another petition - please share this information far and wide!

Read more!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Stop ANWR Drilling (Again)

Stop ANWR Drilling (Again)

[UPDATE] Senator Cantwell kicked some ass! The Defense Spending Bill was filibustered and the Senate is now trying to strip the drilling provisions so that the funding can go through. Yay!

The bastards, aka Sen. Stevens et al, have slipped ANWR drilling into the must-pass Defense Spending Bill. The following Senators are on the fence and much in need of prodding:

Gordon Smith (R-OR) 202.224.3753
Norm Coleman (R-MN) 202-224-5641
Mike DeWine (R-OH) 202-224-2315
John McCain (R-AZ) 202-224-2235
Olympia Snowe (R-ME) 202-224-5344
Susan Collins (R-ME) 202-224-2523
Lindsey Graham (R-SC) 202-224-5972
John Warner (R-VA) 202-224-2023
Chuck Hagel (R-NE) 202-224-4224
George Voinovich (R-OH) 202-224-3353
Ben Nelson (D-NE) 202-224-6551
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) 202-224-4822
Kent Conrad (D-ND) 202-224-2043
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) 202-224-5521

Read more!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Operation Flabbergasted

Operation Flabbergasted

[UPDATE]: Act for Change has a petition demandnig an investigation...pass it on!

Smintheus has now posted three diaries on Operation Flabbergasted:

Part I - Let's Watergate Bush

Part II - A Nation of Laws, Not Men

Part III - Take Back Your Country

Operation Flabbergasted!

This cannot stand. In ordering the NSA to spy secretly on America, George Bush has overturned United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18, which prohibits domestic spying by NSA; violated the federal act which created the FISA court to oversee covert domestic investigations; and trampled upon the Fourth Amendment guarantee against warrantless searches. It cannot stand for a day, much less a month while Congress is in recess.

...We have to ensure that by Monday, all hell has broken loose in D.C.

petition to sign at act for change:

Read more!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Spying on Americans

Spying on Americans

It just ain't right. In fact, it's illegal and hopefully impeachable. Americablog has some wonderful action ideas on this - namely, that the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act should be ignored entirely until we get some answers.

And he's !@#$%& right. It'd also be good to give the NYT a whompin' - they sat on the story for over a year. Pathetic. And please circulate the impeachment petitions. The case against these idiots has never been so strong.

Read more!

Anti-Alito Brigade For Justice, Day 6!

Anti-Alito Brigade For Justice, Day 6!

Alito suggestion: Print up the series and hand them out as booklets.

Today's action item is about separation of church and state. The fundagelicals are beside themselves with glee at the thought of Alito on the bench.

Threatened by the religious right over his nomination of Harriet Miers, President Bush selected their preferred choice. This nomination has been applauded by Christian fundamentalists who fear a loss of their power.

Pat Robertson said he "can see the majority shifted on the court, instead of 4 to 5 against the Lord, going 5 to 4 in His favor." Television ads placed by religious groups hail Alito as a savior and protector against evil forces such as "The ACLU's attempt to scrub away our religious heritage."

Every decision by Judge Alito has favored the public display and proselytizing of the religious. He has indicated in meetings with Senators that he believes the Court has gone too far in separating church and state.

We need to make sure the Senate is paying attention; America was never intended to be a theocracy. Let's leave a nice pile of faxes for them to find on Monday morning!

Read more!

PATRIOT Act: Time for action is NOW

PATRIOT Act: Time for action is NOW

[UPDATE] We won for now! The cloture vote failed and the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act goes back to the drawing board. Frist apparently voted against cloture, probably just so he can call a re-vote, but whatever major loser. Be sure to check out americablog on this - john is on fire and makes some really great points, like we shouldn't even look at the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act until we get an explanation on this spying crap.

And say it with me, everybody: I &hearts Russ!

I like Feingold, but I &hearts Gore More! -NL :)

: p

How likely do you think it is he'd actually run?

(feel free to delete any of this at any time)

The Congressional session resumed yesterday, and the most important issue on tap is the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act.

Specifically, the version that will be voted on this week in both house and the senate is the conference report 109-333 which can be found here. It is associated with resolution H.R. 3199 in the house and S. 1389 in the Senate.

You can read a detailed analysis by the ACLU of this conference report here, and a summary here.  ACLU opposes the bill.

The important thing to remember is that, in all the versions that have been under consideration, namely the house/senate/conference versions, most of the provisions of the PATRIOT act will become permanent.

Barring the Iraq war, there is nothing that is of greater significance at this moment than to make sure that our civil rights are not compromised. I implore you to act upon it.

X-posted at MLW, myDD, booTrib, pCortex, and dKos.

What I think we should try to manage is this:

try and get the current pending resolution ("conference report") defeated or filibustered. then have the congress extend the existing law (which mostly expires in 12/31) by two to three months and hold open floor debates on a new version so that a sensible version of the the bill is enacted with citizen input and feedback. We should also ask for the entire bill to be have a 2 year sunset.

Here is a feasible congressional course of action. Please call your members of congress and ask them for the following:

  1. Ask your Representative to vote NO on the proposed measure (the Conference Report 109-333) in the house of representatives.

  2. Ask both of your senators to support a possible filibuster, and if that fails, to vote NO in the up or down vote on the resolution in the senate.

  3. Ask all three of them to pass an immediate resolution to extend the current law by 2 or 3 months as most of its provisions expire on 12/31. That would allow time for detailed discussion and debate on  reauthorization in order to hammer out a more reasonable version.

  4. Tell them that you demand open floor debates on this vital piece of legislation that stands to compromise your civil and individual rights (in the name of security), and therefore you demand to know exactly what is being legislated on your behalf.

  5. Tell them that the entire law should have a sunset of two years as that would allow for periodic reevaluation of the act, for its effectiveness and necessity.

Links for Contacting Members of Congress: The links below provide comprehensive information on Members of Congress (website, phone, fax, address, and web-forms and/or email) based on your zip code: directory listing

    Senate's own member listing search tool

    ACLU's search page

    Congressional leadership listing

In case you haven't done this before, here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Set aside a notebook/notepad for this and future legislative activism purposes, if possible.

  2. Explore the links above and note down or bookmark the numbers, email addresses, webform URLs etc.

  3. You may also to visit this dKosopedia Election 2006 page later to assess the political dynamics involved.

  4. Call the offices of each of your members of congress (house representative first, as that vote will likely come first).

  5. Note down the name of the staff member you speak to.

  6. Convey your thoughts, and jot down their feedback.

  7. Place followup calls if necessary.

  8. Send emails/webmails, faxes, as necessary.

  9. Sign the petition by People for the American Way (PFAW) emergency petition: link. Please see ACLU's letter to Congress for additional their talking points.

I strongly urge you to follow this matter closely and to post diaries here as well as at the Patriot Act Action Center (category) at My Left Wing:

I encourage to write a diary of your own, and you are most welcome to reproduce and use any part of this diary.

Thank you.


To follow is ACLU's summary of findings on conference report 109-333 (full memo here):

One Page Summary of Conference Report on Patriot Act Reauthorization (12/7/2005)

Summary of Conference Report on Patriot Act Reauthorization

    * The conference report ("conference report") makes virtually all of the expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act (Patriot Act) permanent without including necessary changes to restore checks and balances.

    * Personal records from libraries, bookstores, doctor's offices, business, and other entities that are not connected to an international terrorist or spy could still be obtained using either a secret order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) or a "national security letter" (NSL) that can be issued by an FBI official without any court oversight.

    * Both secret FISA orders and NSLs would continue to contain a potentially permanent gag provision that bars a recipient from telling anyone (other than the recipient's lawyer) that records have been obtained.  The court must accept as "conclusive" the government's assertion that disclosure of an NSL would harm national security.

    * The bill allows sneak-and-peek searches under a broad standard not limited to terrorism cases.  New 30 and 90 day time limits could be waived or renewed indefinitely, allowing such searches to continue to remain secret for weeks, months or even years.

    * The bill still allows secret eavesdropping and secret search orders that do not name a target or a location, with only after-the-fact oversight by a court as to why the government believed a unknown target was in that location.

    * Reforms the Patriot Act's definition of "domestic terrorism" to provide that assets may not be forfeited except where the organization or individual is involved in a serious federal crime - a welcome change.

    * Omits modest limits on a host of additional Patriot Act surveillance powers, all of which are made permanent.

    * Although the final reauthorization bill includes the most extreme death penalty provisions sought by some, it would create a number of new crimes, including new death penalties, without adequate consideration by Congress.

    * The bill allows the Justice Department, not federal courts, to determine that a state has a competent death penalty system, qualifying it for a relaxed set of procedural rules for federal habeas proceedings.

    * Provides a new, four year sunset on only three provisions out of scores of new surveillance powers obtained by the government in the Patriot Act.

Read more!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Anti-Alito Brigade For Justice, Day 5!

Anti-Alito Brigade For Justice, Day 5!

Everybody's favorite - Roe v Wade.

Alito's name does not appear on any briefs the Reagan Solicitor General's office filed in abortion-related cases. However, just a few months before Alito wrote his DOJ application letter touting his contribution to cases in which the government argued that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion," the Solicitor General's office had filed a brief in Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists on that very subject. The brief urged that "this Court should overrule" Roe v. Wade. The Court rejected the Solicitor General's arguments, with only two justices agreeing that Roe should be overturned.

If Alito's jurisprudential views match those on the Thornburgh brief -- and at least in 1985, Alito indicated that they do -- then the job application provides the Judiciary Committee with the type of window into a future justice's thinking that, since the failed nomination of Robert Bork, has become almost nonexistent.

Please visit the diary, share it with others, and use the information to contact your senators!

Read more!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Public Lands In Danger

Public Lands In Danger

[UPDATE] Looks like the Pombo Amendment is dead! Ding!@#$%&Dong!

(originally posted 11/19):
Rep. Pombo has got to go. First he goes after endangered species, now he's after public lands.

The provisions end a decade-long Congressional ban on "patenting" or sale of public lands claimed for mining and creates a new policy of offering vast areas of Western public lands for sale for non-mining uses like real estate development and oil drilling. Under the bill, U.S. and foreign corporations will be able to buy and develop important natural areas now used for recreation, wildlife, fisheries or regional drinking water supplies -- including areas within our National Parks, National Forests, and BLM lands.

Word has it that if Pombo gets on the House-Senate Committee this beast is a done deal. Please FAX House and Senate Leadership in Washington, CALL their local and home offices - now is the time! And of course, call your reps as well. And be sure to send Pombo a note or two or ten...

Unfortunately, they are in recess for the Thanksgiving holiday, but that just provides a great opportunity to bury them in mounds of snail mail and faxes. I'd like to see them try to ignore that! Then, the deluge of phone calls upon their return...

Read more!

C-Span 2

C-Span 2


Read more!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

AFA Attacking Progressive Insurance

AFA Attacking Progressive Insurance

One of Progressive's CEOs donated to ACLU, which allows the ACLU to carry out its "anti-christmas" agenda.

So if any of you have Progressive as your insurance carrier, please thank them for their support of the ACLU. If you do not have insurance with them, maybe consider it. And if you make the switch, please tell them it's because they support they ACLU.

When fundies attack - fight back!

Read more!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Say No to ScAlito!

Say No to ScAlito!

Booman Tribune is composing a series of diaries, each addressing a different problem with Alito.

Please visit the diary and use the information wisely to influence your senators to do the right thing:;sid=2005/12/12/2327/6125

ScAlito will set the clock back decades, if not a century.

Read more!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Hinchey Scores One for Accountability!

Hinchey Scores One for Accountability!

Good news! Rep. Maurice Hinchey's bill requiring the white house to turn over all documents relating to those 16 SOTU words about yellowcake has passed committee! It will now go to a full vote in the house:

In rare fashion, the House Committee on International Relations today kept alive a resolution Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) authored that would require the White House to present Congress with all drafts and documents related to the crafting of President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address. Hinchey offered the resolution so that Congress could determine how the now infamous 16 words about Iraq seeking uranium from Africa, which turned out to be false, made it into that 2003 speech. Hinchey's measure would also require the White House to deliver to Congress all drafts and related documents surrounding an October 2002 speech that the president made in which he discussed a possible mushroom cloud from an Iraqi nuclear weapon, but did not mention an effort by Iraq to obtain uranium from Africa after the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) said such claims were unproven.

...The Republican chairman of the committee, Congressman Henry Hyde (R-IL), ordered a recorded vote on the measure in an attempt to kill it, but the measure tied 24-24.

...If the full Congress adopts the measure, the White House would have 14 days to present Congress with all of the requested documents.

So let's show Rep. Hinchey some support! And, of course, call your congress members - all of them.

And call the members of the International Relations committee, too, even if they're not your personal Senators. You can't help the fact that your Senators don't sit on that committee. Also, since it is the United StatesHouse of Representatives International Relations Committee, that is your, and every other American's, International Relations Committee. It's not like Illinois, for example, conducts extensive diplomatic affairs with foreign countries, now is it?

Read more!

Al Gore (11/03): Repeal the PATRIOT Act + ACTION ITEMS!

Al Gore (11/03): Repeal the PATRIOT Act + ACTION ITEMS!

This is time for action!

Here are some of my thoughts on what we should seek (by calling our respective members of congress) :LINK.

Briefly, IMO, we should ask for:

  1. rejecting or filibustering the conference committee version
  2. open floor debate on a new smaller version
  3. 2 year sunsets on the entire bill, so that it can be reviewed periodically.

Please start calling your members of congress (the DC officies are probably closed, but most of their local offices should be open), and follow through next week. Please post feedback on your calls.

Links for Contacting Members of Congress: The links below provide comprehensive information on Members of Congress (website, phone, fax, address, and web-forms and/or email) based on your zip code:
  1. directory listing
  2. Senate's own member listing
  3. search tool
  4. ACLU's search page
  5. Congressional leadership listing
  6. dKosopedia's Election 2006 page
You may need cookies turned on for some of these links to work.
Thank you.

Yahoo! News is reporting that a deal has been reached between the house and the senate representatives on patriot act reauthorization. It appears that the conference committee will propose 4 year sunsets on two or three provisions and make the rest permanent.

Just before posting this, I noticed that Congressman John Conyers has posted this dairy today.

To follow is a speech by Al Gore on 11/9/2003, where he called for a repeal of the original PATRIOT act, asking instead for a few of its provisions to be crafted into a new, smaller, law.

Freedom and security

by Former Vice-President Al Gore, November 9, 2003.
(Delivered at a and American Constitution Society event, DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, DC)

... pleasantries ...

And perhaps the most important of these issues is the one I want to talk about today: the true relationship between Freedom and Security.

It seems to me that the logical place to start the discussion is with an accounting of exactly what has happened to civil liberties and security since the vicious attacks against America of September 11, 2001 --- and it's important to note at the outset that the Administration and the Congress have brought about many beneficial and needed improvements to make law enforcement and intelligence community efforts more effective against potential terrorists.

But a lot of other changes have taken place that a lot of people don't know about and that come as unwelcome surprises. For example, for the first time in our history, American citizens have been seized by the executive branch of government and put in prison without being charged with a crime, without having the right to a trial, without being able to see a lawyer, and without even being able to contact their families.

President Bush is claiming the unilateral right to do that to any American citizen he believes is an "enemy combatant." Those are the magic words. If the President alone decides that those two words accurately describe someone, then that person can be immediately locked up and held incommunicado for as long as the President wants, with no court having the right to determine whether the facts actually justify his imprisonment.

Now if the President makes a mistake, or is given faulty information by somebody working for him, and locks up the wrong person, then it's almost impossible for that person to prove his innocence --- because he can't talk to a lawyer or his family or anyone else and he doesn't even have the right to know what specific crime he is accused of committing. So a constitutional right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness that we used to think of in an old-fashioned way as "inalienable" can now be instantly stripped from any American by the President with no meaningful review by any other branch of government.

How do we feel about that? Is that OK?

Here's another recent change in our civil liberties: Now, if it wants to, the federal government has the right to monitor every website you go to on the Internet, keep a list of everyone you send email to or receive email from and everyone who you call on the telephone or who calls you --- and they don't even have to show probable cause that you've done anything wrong. Nor do they ever have to report to any court on what they're doing with the information. Moreover, there are precious few safeguards to keep them from reading the content of all your email.

Everybody fine with that?

If so, what about this next change?

For America's first 212 years, it used to be that if the police wanted to search your house, they had to be able to convince an independent judge to give them a search warrant and then (with rare exceptions) they had to go bang on your door and yell, "Open up!" Then, if you didn't quickly open up, they could knock the door down. Also, if they seized anything, they had to leave a list explaining what they had taken. That way, if it was all a terrible mistake (as it sometimes is) you could go and get your stuff back.

But that's all changed now. Starting two years ago, federal agents were given broad new statutory authority by the Patriot Act to "sneak and peak" in non-terrorism cases. They can secretly enter your home with no warning --- whether you are there or not --- and they can wait for months before telling you they were there. And it doesn't have to have any relationship to terrorism whatsoever. It applies to any garden-variety crime. And the new law makes it very easy to get around the need for a traditional warrant --- simply by saying that searching your house might have some connection (even a remote one) to the investigation of some agent of a foreign power. Then they can go to another court, a secret court, that more or less has to give them a warrant whenever they ask.

Three weeks ago, in a speech at FBI Headquarters, President Bush went even further and formally proposed that the Attorney General be allowed to authorize subpoenas by administrative order, without the need for a warrant from any court.

What about the right to consult a lawyer if you're arrested? Is that important?

Attorney General Ashcroft has issued regulations authorizing the secret monitoring of attorney-client conversations on his say-so alone; bypassing procedures for obtaining prior judicial review for such monitoring in the rare instances when it was permitted in the past. Now, whoever is in custody has to assume that the government is always listening to consultations between them and their lawyers.

Does it matter if the government listens in on everything you say to your lawyer? Is that Ok?

Or, to take another change --- and thanks to the librarians, more people know about this one --- the FBI now has the right to go into any library and ask for the records of everybody who has used the library and get a list of who is reading what.

Similarly, the FBI can demand all the records of banks, colleges, hotels, hospitals, credit-card companies, and many more kinds of companies. And these changes are only the beginning. Just last week, Attorney General Ashcroft issued brand new guidelines permitting FBI agents to run credit checks and background checks and gather other information about anyone who is "of investigatory interest," --- meaning anyone the agent thinks is suspicious --- without any evidence of criminal behavior.

So, is that fine with everyone?

Listen to the way Israel's highest court dealt with a similar question when, in 1999, it was asked to balance due process rights against dire threats to the security of its people:

"This is the destiny of democracy, as not all means are acceptable to it, and not all practices employed by its enemies are open before it. Although a democracy must often fight with one hand tied behind its back, it nonetheless has the upper hand. Preserving the Rule of Law and recognition of an individual's liberty constitutes an important component in its understanding of security. At the end of the day they (add to) its strength."

I want to challenge the Bush Administration's implicit assumption that we have to give up many of our traditional freedoms in order to be safe from terrorists.

Because it is simply not true.

In fact, in my opinion, it makes no more sense to launch an assault on our civil liberties as the best way to get at terrorists than it did to launch an invasion of Iraq as the best way to get at Osama Bin Laden.

In both cases, the Administration has attacked the wrong target.

In both cases they have recklessly put our country in grave and unnecessary danger, while avoiding and neglecting obvious and much more important challenges that would actually help to protect the country.

In both cases, the administration has fostered false impressions and misled the nation with superficial, emotional and manipulative presentations that are not worthy of American Democracy.

In both cases they have exploited public fears for partisan political gain and postured themselves as bold defenders of our country while actually weakening not strengthening America.

In both cases, they have used unprecedented secrecy and deception in order to avoid accountability to the Congress, the Courts, the press and the people.

Indeed, this Administration has turned the fundamental presumption of our democracy on its head. A government of and for the people is supposed to be generally open to public scrutiny by the people --- while the private information of the people themselves should be routinely protected from government intrusion.

But instead, this Administration is seeking to conduct its work in secret even as it demands broad unfettered access to personal information about American citizens. Under the rubric of protecting national security, they have obtained new powers to gather information from citizens and to keep it secret. Yet at the same time they themselves refuse to disclose information that is highly relevant to the war against terrorism.

They are even arrogantly refusing to provide information about 9/11 that is in their possession to the 9/11 Commission --- the lawful investigative body charged with examining not only the performance of the Bush Administration, but also the actions of the prior Administration in which I served. The whole point is to learn all we can about preventing future terrorist attacks,

Two days ago, the Commission was forced to issue a subpoena to the Pentagon, which has --- disgracefully --- put Secretary Rumsfeld's desire to avoid embarrassment ahead of the nation's need to learn how we can best avoid future terrorist attacks.

The Commission also served notice that it will issue a subpoena to the White House if the President continues to withhold information essential to the investigation.

And the White House is also refusing to respond to repeated bipartisan Congressional requests for information about 9/11 --- even though the Congress is simply exercising its Constitutional oversight authority. In the words of Senator McCain, "Excessive administration secrecy on issues related to the September 11 attacks feeds conspiracy theories and reduces the public's confidence in government."

In a revealing move, just three days ago, the White House asked the Republican leadership of the Senate to shut down the Intelligence Committee's investigation of 9/11 based on a trivial political dispute. Apparently the President is anxious to keep the Congress from seeing what are said to have been clear, strong and explicit warnings directly to him a few weeks before 9/11 that terrorists were planning to hijack commercial airliners and use them to attack us.

Astonishingly, the Republican Senate leadership quickly complied with the President's request. Such obedience and complicity in what looks like a cover-up from the majority party in a separate and supposedly co-equal branch of government makes it seem like a very long time ago when a Republican Attorney General and his deputy resigned rather than comply with an order to fire the special prosecutor investigating Richard Nixon.

In an even more brazen move, more than two years after they rounded up over 1,200 individuals of Arab descent, they still refuse to release the names of the individuals they detained, even though virtually every one of those arrested has been "cleared" by the FBI of any connection to terrorism and there is absolutely no national security justification for keeping the names secret. Yet at the same time, White House officials themselves leaked the name of a CIA operative serving the country, in clear violation of the law, in an effort to get at her husband, who had angered them by disclosing that the President had relied on forged evidence in his state of the union address as part of his effort to convince the country that Saddam Hussein was on the verge of building nuclear weapons.

And even as they claim the right to see the private bank records of every American, they are adopting a new policy on the Freedom of Information Act that actively encourages federal agencies to fully consider all potential reasons for non-disclosure regardless of whether the disclosure would be harmful. In other words, the federal government will now actively resist complying with ANY request for information.

Moreover, they have established a new exemption that enables them to refuse the release to the press and the public of important health, safety and environmental information submitted to the government by businesses --- merely by calling it "critical infrastructure."

By closely guarding information about their own behavior, they are dismantling a fundamental element of our system of checks and balances. Because so long as the government's actions are secret, they cannot be held accountable. A government for the people and by the people must be transparent to the people.

The administration is justifying the collection of all this information by saying in effect that it will make us safer to have it. But it is not the kind of information that would have been of much help in preventing 9/11. However, there was in fact a great deal of specific information that WAS available prior to 9/11 that probably could have been used to prevent the tragedy. A recent analysis by the Merkle foundation, (working with data from a software company that received venture capital from a CIA-sponsored firm) demonstrates this point in a startling way:

  • "In late August 2001, Nawaq Alhamzi and Khalid Al-Midhar bought tickets to fly on American Airlines Flight 77 (which was flown into the Pentagon). They bought the tickets using their real names. Both names were then on a State Department/INS watch list called TIPOFF. Both men were sought by the FBI and CIA as suspected terrorists, in part because they had been observed at a terrorist meeting in Malaysia.

  • These two passenger names would have been exact matches when checked against the TIPOFF list. But that would only have been the first step. Further data checks could then have begun.

  • Checking for common addresses (address information is widely available, including on the Internet), analysts would have discovered that Salem Al-Hazmi (who also bought a seat on American 77) used the same address as Nawaq Alhazmi. More importantly, they could have discovered that Mohamed Atta (American 11, North Tower of the World Trade Center) and Marwan Al-Shehhi (United 175, South Tower of the World Trade Center) used the same address as Khalid Al-Midhar.

  • Checking for identical frequent flier numbers, analysts would have discovered that Majed Moqed (American 77) used the same number as Al-Midhar.

  • With Mohamed Atta now also identified as a possible associate of the wanted terrorist, Al-Midhar, analysts could have added Atta's phone numbers (also publicly available information) to their checklist. By doing so they would have identified five other hijackers (Fayez Ahmed, Mohand Alshehri, Wail Alsheri, and Abdulaziz Alomari).

  • Closer to September 11, a further check of passenger lists against a more innocuous INS watch list (for expired visas) would have identified Ahmed Alghandi. Through him, the same sort of relatively simple correlations could have led to identifying the remaining hijackers, who boarded United 93 (which crashed in Pennsylvania)."

In addition, Al-Midhar and Nawaf Alhamzi, the two who were on the terrorist watch list, rented an apartment in San Diego under their own names and were listed, again under their own names, in the San Diego phone book while the FBI was searching for them.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but what is needed is better and more timely analysis. Simply piling up more raw data that is almost entirely irrelevant is not only not going to help. It may actually hurt the cause. As one FBI agent said privately of Ashcroft: "We're looking for a needle in a haystack here and he (Ashcroft) is just piling on more hay."

In other words, the mass collecting of personal data on hundreds of millions of people actually makes it more difficult to protect the nation against terrorists, so they ought to cut most of it out.

And meanwhile, the real story is that while the administration manages to convey the impression that it is doing everything possible to protect America, in reality it has seriously neglected most of the measures that it could have taken to really make our country safer.

For example, there is still no serious strategy for domestic security that protects critical infrastructure such as electric power lines, gas pipelines, nuclear facilities, ports, chemical plants and the like.

They're still not checking incoming cargo carriers for radiation. They're still skimping on protection of certain nuclear weapons storage facilities. They're still not hardening critical facilities that must never be soft targets for terrorists. They're still not investing in the translators and analysts we need to counter the growing terror threat.

The administration is still not investing in local government training and infrastructures where they could make the biggest difference. The first responder community is still being shortchanged. In many cases, fire and police departments still don't have the communications equipment to talk to each other. The CDC and local hospitals are still nowhere close to being ready for a biological weapons attack.

The administration has still failed to address the fundamental disorganization and rivalries of our law enforcement, intelligence and investigative agencies. In particular, the critical FBI-CIA coordination, while finally improved at the top, still remains dysfunctional in the trenches.

The constant violations of civil liberties promote the false impression that these violations are necessary in order to take every precaution against another terrorist attack. But the simple truth is that the vast majority of the violations have not benefited our security at all; to the contrary, they hurt our security.

And the treatment of immigrants was probably the worst example. This mass mistreatment actually hurt our security in a number of important ways.

But first, let's be clear about what happened: this was little more than a cheap and cruel political stunt by John Ashcroft. More than 99 percent of the mostly Arab-background men who were rounded up had merely overstayed their visas or committed some other minor offense as they tried to pursue the American dream just like most immigrants. But they were used as extras in the Administration's effort to give the impression that they had caught a large number of bad guys. And many of them were treated horribly and abusively.

Consider this example reported in depth by Anthony Lewis:

"Anser Mehmood, a Pakistani who had overstayed his visa, was arrested in New York on October 3, 2001. The next day he was briefly questioned by FBI agents, who said they had no further interest in him. Then he was shackled in handcuffs, leg irons, and a belly chain and taken to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. Guards there put two more sets of handcuffs on him and another set of leg irons. One threw Mehmood against a wall. The guards forced him to run down a long ramp, the irons cutting into his wrists and ankles. The physical abuse was mixed with verbal taunts.

"After two weeks Mehmood was allowed to make a telephone call to his wife. She was not at home and Mehmood was told that he would have to wait six weeks to try again. He first saw her, on a visit, three months after his arrest. All that time he was kept in a windowless cell, in solitary confinement, with two overhead fluorescent lights on all the time. In the end he was charged with using an invalid Social Security card. He was deported in May 2002, nearly eight months after his arrest.

The faith tradition I share with Ashcroft includes this teaching from Jesus: "whatsoever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me."

And make no mistake: the disgraceful treatment suffered by many of these vulnerable immigrants at the hands of the administration has created deep resentments and hurt the cooperation desperately needed from immigrant communities in the US and from the Security Services of other countries.

Second, these gross violations of their rights have seriously damaged US moral authority and goodwill around the world, and delegitimized US efforts to continue promoting Human Rights around the world. As one analyst put it, "We used to set the standard; now we have lowered the bar." And our moral authority is, after all, our greatest source of enduring strength in the world.

And the handling of prisoners at Guantanamo has been particularly harmful to America's image. Even England and Australia have criticized our departure from international law and the Geneva Convention. Secretary Rumsfeld's handling of the captives there has been about as thoughtful as his "postwar" plan for Iraq.

So the mass violations of civil liberties have hurt rather than helped. But there is yet another reason for urgency in stopping what this administration is doing. Where Civil Liberties are concerned, they have taken us much farther down the road toward an intrusive, "Big Brother"-style government --- toward the dangers prophesied by George Orwell in his book "1984" --- than anyone ever thought would be possible in the United States of America.

And they have done it primarily by heightening and exploiting public anxieties and apprehensions. Rather than leading with a call to courage, this Administration has chosen to lead us by inciting fear.

Almost eighty years ago, Justice Louis Brandeis wrote "Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards.... They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty." Those who won our independence, Brandeis asserted, understood that "courage [is] the secret of liberty" and "fear [only] breeds repression."

Rather than defending our freedoms, this Administration has sought to abandon them. Rather than accepting our traditions of openness and accountability, this Administration has opted to rule by secrecy and unquestioned authority. Instead, its assaults on our core democratic principles have only left us less free and less secure.

Throughout American history, what we now call Civil Liberties have often been abused and limited during times of war and perceived threats to security. The best known instances include the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798-1800, the brief suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War, the extreme abuses during World War I and the notorious Red Scare and Palmer Raids immediately after the war, the shameful internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, and the excesses of the FBI and CIA during the Vietnam War and social turmoil of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

But in each of these cases, the nation has recovered its equilibrium when the war ended and absorbed the lessons learned in a recurring cycle of excess and regret.

There are reasons for concern this time around that what we are experiencing may no longer be the first half of a recurring cycle but rather, the beginning of something new. For one thing, this war is predicted by the administration to "last for the rest of our lives." Others have expressed the view that over time it will begin to resemble the "war" against drugs --- that is, that it will become a more or less permanent struggle that occupies a significant part of our law enforcement and security agenda from now on. If that is the case, then when --- if ever -- does this encroachment on our freedoms die a natural death?

It is important to remember that throughout history, the loss of civil liberties by individuals and the aggregation of too much unchecked power in the executive go hand in hand. They are two sides of the same coin.

A second reason to worry that what we are witnessing is a discontinuity and not another turn of the recurring cycle is that the new technologies of surveillance --- long anticipated by novelists like Orwell and other prophets of the "Police State" --- are now more widespread than they have ever been.

And they do have the potential for shifting the balance of power between the apparatus of the state and the freedom of the individual in ways both subtle and profound.

Moreover, these technologies are being widely used not only by the government but also by corporations and other private entities. And that is relevant to an assessment of the new requirements in the Patriot Act for so many corporations --- especially in the finance industries --- to prepare millions of reports annually for the government on suspicious activities by their customers. It is also relevant to the new flexibility corporations have been given to share information with one another about their customers.

The third reason for concern is that the threat of more terror strikes is all too real. And the potential use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorist groups does create a new practical imperative for the speedy exercise of discretionary power by the executive branch --- just as the emergence of nuclear weapons and ICBMs created a new practical imperative in the Cold War that altered the balance of war-making responsibility between Congress and the President.

But President Bush has stretched this new practical imperative beyond what is healthy for our democracy. Indeed, one of the ways he has tried to maximize his power within the American system has been by constantly emphasizing his role as Commander-in-Chief, far more than any previous President --- assuming it as often and as visibly as he can, and bringing it into the domestic arena and conflating it with his other roles: as head of government and head of state --- and especially with his political role as head of the Republican Party.

Indeed, the most worrisome new factor, in my view, is the aggressive ideological approach of the current administration, which seems determined to use fear as a political tool to consolidate its power and to escape any accountability for its use. Just as unilateralism and dominance are the guiding principles of their disastrous approach to international relations, they are also the guiding impulses of the administration's approach to domestic politics. They are impatient with any constraints on the exercise of power overseas --- whether from our allies, the UN, or international law. And in the same way, they are impatient with any obstacles to their use of power at home --- whether from Congress, the courts, the press, or the rule of law.

Ashcroft has also authorized FBI agents to attend church meetings, rallies, political meetings and any other citizen activity open to the public simply on the agents' own initiative, reversing a decades old policy that required justification to supervisors that such infiltrations has a provable connection to a legitimate investigation.

They have even taken steps that seem to be clearly aimed at stifling dissent.

The Bush Justice Department has recently begun a highly disturbing criminal prosecution of the environmental group Greenpeace because of a non-violent direct action protest against what Greenpeace claimed was the illegal importation of endangered mahogany from the Amazon. Independent legal experts and historians have said that the prosecution --- under an obscure and bizarre 1872 law against "sailor-mongering" --- appears to be aimed at inhibiting Greenpeace's First Amendment activities.

And at the same time they are breaking new ground by prosecuting Greenpeace, the Bush Administration announced just a few days ago that it is dropping the investigations of 50 power plants for violating the Clean Air Act --- a move that Senator Chuck Schumer said, "basically announced to the power industry that it can now pollute with impunity."

The politicization of law enforcement in this administration is part of their larger agenda to roll back the changes in government policy brought about by the New Deal and the Progressive Movement. Toward that end, they are cutting back on Civil Rights enforcement, Women's Rights, progressive taxation, the estate tax, access to the courts, Medicare, and much more. And they approach every issue as a partisan fight to the finish, even in the areas of national security and terror.

Instead of trying to make the "War on Terrorism" a bipartisan cause, the Bush White House has consistently tried to exploit it for partisan advantage. The President goes to war verbally against terrorists in virtually every campaign speech and fundraising dinner for his political party. It is his main political theme. Democratic candidates like Max Cleland in Georgia were labeled unpatriotic for voting differently from the White House on obscure amendments to the Homeland Security Bill.

When the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, Tom DeLay, was embroiled in an effort to pick up more congressional seats in Texas by forcing a highly unusual redistricting vote in the state senate, he was able to track down Democratic legislators who fled the state to prevent a quorum (and thus prevent the vote) by enlisting the help of President Bush's new Department of Homeland Security, as many as 13 employees of the Federal Aviation Administration who conducted an eight-hour search, and at least one FBI agent (though several other agents who were asked to help refused to do so.)

By locating the Democrats quickly with the technology put in place for tracking terrorists, the Republicans were able to succeed in focusing public pressure on the weakest of the Senators and forced passage of their new political redistricting plan. Now, thanks in part to the efforts of three different federal agencies, Bush and DeLay are celebrating the gain of up to seven new Republican congressional seats in the next Congress.

The White House timing for its big push for a vote in Congress on going to war with Iraq also happened to coincide exactly with the start of the fall election campaign in September a year ago. The President's chief of staff said the timing was chosen because "from a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August."

White House political advisor Karl Rove advised Republican candidates that their best political strategy was to "run on the war". And as soon as the troops began to mobilize, the Republican National Committee distributed yard signs throughout America saying, "I support President Bush and the troops" --- as if they were one and the same.

This persistent effort to politicize the war in Iraq and the war against terrorism for partisan advantage is obviously harmful to the prospects for bipartisan support of the nation's security policies. By sharp contrast, consider the different approach that was taken by Prime Minister Winston Churchill during the terrible days of October 1943 when in the midst of World War II, he faced a controversy with the potential to divide his bipartisan coalition. He said, "What holds us together is the prosecution of the war. No... man has been asked to give up his convictions. That would be indecent and improper. We are held together by something outside, which rivets our attention. The principle that we work on is, 'Everything for the war, whether controversial or not, and nothing controversial that is not bona fide for the war.' That is our position. We must also be careful that a pretext is not made of war needs to introduce far-reaching social or political changes by a side wind."

Yet that is exactly what the Bush Administration is attempting to do --- to use the war against terrorism for partisan advantage and to introduce far reaching controversial changes in social policy by a "side wind," in an effort to consolidate its political power.

It is an approach that is deeply antithetical to the American spirit. Respect for our President is important. But so is respect for our people. Our founders knew --- and our history has proven --- that freedom is best guaranteed by a separation of powers into co-equal branches of government within a system of checks and balances to prevent the unhealthy concentration of too much power in the hands of any one person or group.

Our framers were also keenly aware that the history of the world proves that Republics are fragile. The very hour of America's birth in Philadelphia, when Benjamin Franklin was asked, "What have we got? A Republic or a Monarchy?" he cautiously replied, "A Republic, if you can keep it."

And even in the midst of our greatest testing, Lincoln knew that our fate was tied to the larger question of whether ANY nation so conceived could long endure.

This Administration simply does not seem to agree that the challenge of preserving democratic freedom cannot be met by surrendering core American values.

Incredibly, this Administration has attempted to compromise the most precious rights that America has stood for all over the world for more than 200 years: due process, equal treatment under the law, the dignity of the individual, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, freedom from promiscuous government surveillance.

And in the name of security, this Administration has attempted to relegate the Congress and the Courts to the sidelines and replace our democratic system of checks and balances with an unaccountable Executive. And all the while, it has constantly angled for new ways to exploit the sense of crisis for partisan gain and political dominance. How dare they!

Years ago, during World War II, one of our most eloquent Supreme Court Justices, Robert Jackson, wrote that the President should be given the "widest latitude" in wartime, but he warned against the "loose and irresponsible invocation of war as an excuse for discharging the Executive Branch from the rules of law that govern our Republic in times of peace. No penance would ever expiate the sin against free government," Jackson said, "of holding that a President can escape control of executive powers by law through assuming his military role. Our government has ample authority under the Constitution to take those steps which are genuinely necessary for our security. At the same time, our system demands that government act only on the basis of measures that have been the subject of open and thoughtful debate in Congress and among the American people, and that invasions of the liberty or equal dignity of any individual are subject to review by courts which are open to those affected and independent of the government which is curtailing their freedom."

So what should be done? Well, to begin with, our country ought to find a way to immediately stop its policy of indefinitely detaining American citizens without charges and without a judicial determination that their detention is proper.

Such a course of conduct is incompatible with American traditions and values, with sacred principles of due process of law and separation of powers.

It is no accident that our Constitution requires in criminal prosecutions a "speedy and public trial." The principles of liberty and the accountability of government, at the heart of what makes America unique, require no less. The Bush Administration's treatment of American citizens it calls "enemy combatants" is nothing short of un-American.

Second, foreign citizens held in Guantanamo should be given hearings to determine their status provided for under Article V of the Geneva Convention, a hearing that the United States has given those captured in every war until this one, including Vietnam and the Gulf War.

If we don't provide this, how can we expect American soldiers captured overseas to be treated with equal respect? We owe this to our sons and daughters who fight to defend freedom in Iraq, in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world.

Third, the President should seek congressional authorization for the military commissions he says he intends to use instead of civilian courts to try some of those who are charged with violating the laws of war. Military commissions are exceptional in American law and they present unique dangers. The prosecutor and the judge both work for the same man, the President of the United States. Such commissions may be appropriate in time of war, but they must be authorized by Congress, as they were in World War II, and Congress must delineate the scope of their authority. Review of their decisions must be available in a civilian court, at least the Supreme Court, as it was in World War II.

Next, our nation's greatness is measured by how we treat those who are the most vulnerable. Noncitizens who the government seeks to detain should be entitled to some basic rights. The administration must stop abusing the material witness statute. That statute was designed to hold witnesses briefly before they are called to testify before a grand jury. It has been misused by this administration as a pretext for indefinite detention without charge. That is simply not right.

Finally, I have studied the Patriot Act and have found that along with its many excesses, it contains a few needed changes in the law. And it is certainly true that many of the worst abuses of due process and civil liberties that are now occurring are taking place under the color of laws and executive orders other than the Patriot Act.

Nevertheless, I believe the Patriot Act has turned out to be, on balance, a terrible mistake, and that it became a kind of Tonkin Gulf Resolution conferring Congress's blessing for this President's assault on civil liberties. Therefore, I believe strongly that the few good features of this law should be passed again in a new, smaller law --- but that the Patriot Act must be repealed.

As John Adams wrote in 1780, ours is a government of laws and not of men. What is at stake today is that defining principle of our nation, and thus the very nature of America. As the Supreme Court has written, "Our Constitution is a covenant running from the first generation of Americans to us and then to future generations." The Constitution includes no wartime exception, though its Framers knew well the reality of war. And, as Justice Holmes reminded us shortly after World War I, the Constitution's principles only have value if we apply them in the difficult times as well as those where it matters less.

The question before us could be of no greater moment: will we continue to live as a people under the rule of law as embodied in our Constitution? Or will we fail future generations, by leaving them a Constitution far diminished from the charter of liberty we have inherited from our forebears? Our choice is clear.

Please see there diaries by Rep. Conyers and Sen. Feingold both of whom have been fighting on this front in Congress:


in addition to Congressman Conyers' current diary:


Read more!

Message to Lieberman

Message to Lieberman

shut the fuck up! Debate is responsible and patriotic.

the other day Lieberman had this to say:

"It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge he'll be commander-in-chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril."

what a joke, all around. so sign this letter to joe to let him know dissent is patriotic and vital to our democracy.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

PFAW Action alert

PFAW Action alert

Count Every Vote Act 2005

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, along with others, recently unveiled a sweeping federal election reform bill, the Count Every Vote Act of 2005.

The Count Every Vote Act addresses an impressive number of the problems that Election Protection volunteers documented in 2004, and there's good reason for that. People For the American Way and the Election Protection coalition advised the bill's authors after spending weeks and months poring over the incident reports and voter testimonials which EP volunteers helped gather.

This bill is what we've been working toward since November 2, and it needs your support now.


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Friday, December 02, 2005

Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho), Bought and Paid For

Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho), Bought and Paid For

By the hydropower industry:

In a surgical strike from Capitol Hill, Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho) has eliminated a little-known agency that counts endangered fish in the Columbia River.

..."Data cloaked in advocacy create confusion," Craig said on the Senate floor this month, after successfully inserting language in an energy and water appropriations bill that bans all future funding for the Fish Passage Center. "False science leads people to false choices."

...Salmon math has clearly riled up Craig, who in his last election campaign in 2002 received more money from electric utilities than from any other industry and who has been named "legislator of the year" by the National Hydropower Association.

...Here in Portland, Michele DeHart, a fish biologist who is the longtime manager of the center, said..."I guess I am flabbergasted. We are biologists and computer scientists, and what we do is just math. Math can't hurt you."

...The Fish Passage Center has documented, in excruciating statistical detail, how the Columbia-Snake hydroelectric system kills salmon.

Please, pretty please, call Senator Craig and tell him this is abominable. If all he cares about is money, point out to him how the fishing/tourism industry might suffer from a depleted salmon population.

Otherwise, please encourage your Senators to propose an amendment restoring this organization's funding.

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