• Fourth Amendment Of The United States Constitution

    "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." The recent capitualtion of the United States House of Representaives to the Bush Administrations demands for TELECOM IMMUNITY in anticipation of the United States Senate following suit shall not stand. Congress is empowered to pass laws. If they pass a bad law it needs to be repealed. This is bad law and this site seeks to have this law repealed. Please Read Carte blanche to illegally spy on Americans by Tom Burghardt
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Stand Up For the Constitution: DC Inaugural Demonstration, 1-20-09

1-20-09 Pro-Constitution Activist Demonstration on Inauguration Parade Route on Pennsylvania Avenue.  Web Banner.Since the FISA Amendments Act in the summer of 2008, the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution is essentially a suggestion. The prohibition on searches and seizures of you, your property and your communications used to be a mandate, but now it is just a suggestion to be followed if the President feels like it.

Is that acceptable to you? If not, consider that our next President, Barack Obama, not only voted for the FISA Amendments Act, but declared his intention to employ it as President.

Do you believe dissent is the highest form of Patriotism unless the object of dissent is a Democrat?
Do you believe that an administration must adhere to the Constitution or pay political costs… so long as the administration is a Republican one?

Or do you believe the United States Constitution applies in all seasons? Do you advocate all presidents, Democratic or Republican, should be held to account for their policy decisions?

If you find yourself in the latter camp, then please join us on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009, in Washington, DC. We have secured a permit for a spot on Pennsylvania Avenue. Our purpose: to courteously, quietly but pointedly stand along the route, holding signs that ask our new president Barack Obama, as he passes us by on Pennsylvania Avenue, to fulfill his Oath of Office “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Here are the details, from the Inauguration demonstration web page:

President Barack Obama:
Fulfill Your Oath
Preserve, Protect and Defend the Constitution

Pro-Constitution Demonstration in Washington, DC
Outside the Department of Justice
SW Corner of Pennsylvania and 9th
on the Inauguration Parade Route

January 20, 2009 (presence maintained through the day until the end of the Inaugural Parade)

Support the Constitution by exercising it! Exercise your First Amendment freedom to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievance. Ask President Barack Obama to keep his Oath of Office to “Preserve, Protect and Defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Demonstration web page:

Will you carry your principled activism into the Obama Era? Will you be there?

Will you spread the word?


Last Chance to Oppose FISA Amendments Act This Morning

This morning is the last chance we have to oppose the passage of the FISA Amendments Act. The Senate is set to begin considering H.R. 6304 at 10:00 Eastern Time this morning.

What’s wrong with the FISA Amendments Act? It all comes down to this: The FISA Amendments Act gives the Attorney General the power to make unchallenged declarations of law, and to use this power to set up massive spy programs against the American people.

The FISA Amendments Act places the Attorney General in the position of an unstoppable spy master.

Are you okay with that? No? Then please call your two United States Senators and tell them you want them to vote NO on the FISA Amendments Act. Call them at (202) 224-3121 – before it’s too late!

fisa amendments act video podcast

The FISA Amendments Act in 20 Seconds

A fair number of people have been writing a lot of words about H.R. 6304 and why its passage is inadvisable. But if we wanted to sum it all up in, say, twenty seconds, what would we say?

Here’s what I’d say:

H.R. 6304 in 20 Seconds youtube video

H.R. 6304 in 20 Seconds youtube video

Call the Senate today at (202) 224-3121 and tell your Senators to vote NO on H.R. 6304.

Sample Letter to the Editor on H.R. 6304, FISA and the Constitution

Over the past two days Russell Feingold and Christopher Dodd have led a group in the Senate in setting up enough procedural roadblocks that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been forced to delay a final vote on H.R. 6304 until at least July 7.

This is good. It gives Americans opposed to H.R. 6304 enough time to spread the word about this is bill and its most pernicious aspects — not just to our Senators (many of whom have not read the bill, and who need to receive our phone calls), but also to our friends, our family, our coworkers and our neighbors, who most likely are not aware of this bill’s contents and implications. After all, the newspapers and the TV news are only covering the bill in a superficial fashion.

So yes, we need to write blog posts. But we also need to record podcasts. We need to make videos. And then… we need to go beyond the internet. We need to write the letters to the editors of our local newspapers, because those citizens most likely to call their Senators are the same citizens who read newspapers. We is me plus you. That means you need to write a letter to the editor of your newspaper today.

Here is the text of the letter I just submitted to the Columbus Dispatch, a newspaper with a circulation of more than 350,000:

To the Editor:

Now that the FISA Amendments Act (H.R. 6304) has been passed by the House of Representatives (Dispatch, 6/21), only the Senate stands in the way of this bill becoming the law of the land. In violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, H.R. 6304 permits the White House to spy on anyone’s communications or physically search anyone’s property without a warrant. Your phone calls, your bank records, your e-mails, your car, your office, your home — nothing is off limits, and the White House doesn’t need to establish any cause at all. After one week of surveillance of your phone and physical searches of your home, a judge can finally order the White House to stop — but the White House can keep whatever information it has obtained and use it anyway. Don’t believe me? Google “H.R. 6304” and read this bill yourself.

Do you trust the President with unchecked power to search your communications and your property? Do you believe the Bill of Rights is just a suggestion? If your answer to these questions is “no,” then I urge you to call Senator Sherrod Brown at (202) 224-2315 and Senator George Voinovich at (202) 224-3353. Ask them to vote NO on H.R. 6304.


James M. Cook

Please feel free to use it as a point of inspiration… but please do not cut and paste! That’s called astroturfing, and it is not only ethically problematic but also counterproductive. Using your own words, spread the word on FISA by writing a letter to the editor today.

If twenty people reading this post each write a letter to the editor, and if just ten of those letters are published, we could reach millions of people.

So get to it!

Reward the Heroes of Resistance to the FISA Amendments Act

If we want to be effective in our activism in opposition to the FISA Amendments Act, then we need to think about how to influence members of Congress to vote the way that we want. Influence is created through a system of rewards and punishment. In choosing between rewards and punishment, we need to keep in mind that rewards are generally the more effective method, but they have to be communicated clearly, and associated with the behavior that we want to see repeated.

In the case of the FISA Amendments Act, we need to send a clear message that members of Congress who will vote to uphold the Constitution will be rewarded. As bloggers, we can reward those members of Congress with favorable coverage. To make the linkage clear, we need to specifically praise individual members of Congress for their votes against the FISA Amendments Act.

I’ve been working on this project myself over the last week. Every day, I write about the the good members of the House of Representatives who voted against the FISA Amendments Act, including segments from their official statements on the bill that seem particularly eloquent.

Two days ago, for example, I wrote an article about Representative Tammy Baldwin and her well-crafted speech against H.R. 6304. When I searched on Google Blogsearch for more information on Congresswoman Baldwin’s stand on this legislation, however, searching for “FISA Amendments Act” and “Tammy Baldwin”, I saw that my article was one of only two blog articles that came up.

There ought to be hundreds of such articles written about what Tammy Baldwin did for America.

How must it feel for those members of the House of Representatives who did the right thing, only to be met with silence by the progressive blogosphere? They put their necks out for us, and yet we have not given them the good coverage that they deserve. Next time, will they stick their necks out again?

We all need to step up and write the simple blog articles of thanks to the members of the House of Representatives who voted NO to H.R. 6304. There is a list of these heroes in defense of the Constitution over at the Protect America – Act! web site.

You can find statements many of these members of Congress have made about the FISA Amendments Act on their congressional sites at House.gov or in the congressional record at the Library of Congress.

This is good, original source material to write about – the stuff bloggers should dream about. We don’t need to be part of the mainstream media’s echo chamber. We can write useful articles to communicate about particular members of Congress with their constituents about something specific. It’s up to us to spread this information – most people won’t hear about it in any other way.

Neglected Portion of H.R. 6304: Physical Searches Are Covered, Too

Do a Google News search for “h.r. 6304” and you’ll get over a thousand news articles. Add the term “physical search,” or “physical searches,” or even just “physical,” and how many news articles come up? Zero, zero, zero.

And yet there is an entire section of H.R. 6304 that has to do with authorizations for physical searches. Not electronic searches of communications. Physical searches.

Section 107 of Title IV of H.R. 6304 is entitled “Amendments for Physical Searches.” After initial text which edits currently existing law on physical searches, the following amendment is added to it:

(e)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, the Attorney General may authorize the emergency employment of a physical search if the Attorney General—
(A) reasonably determines that an emergency situation exists with respect to the employment of a physical search to obtain foreign intelligence information before an order authorizing such physical search can with due diligence be obtained;
(B) reasonably determines that the factual basis for issuance of an order under this title to approve such physical search exists;
(C) informs, either personally or through a designee, a judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court at the time of such authorization that the decision has been made to employ an emergency physical search; and
(D) makes an application in accordance with this title to a judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court as soon as practicable, but not more than 7 days after the Attorney General authorizes such physical search.

(2) If the Attorney General authorizes the emergency employment of a physical search under paragraph (1), the Attorney General shall require that the minimization procedures required by this title for the issuance of a judicial order be followed.

(3) In the absence of a judicial order approving such physical search, the physical search shall terminate when the information sought is obtained, when the application for the order is denied, or after the expiration of 7 days from the time of authorization by the Attorney General, whichever is earliest.

(4) A denial of the application made under this subsection may be reviewed as provided in section 103.

(5) In the event that such application for approval is denied, or in any other case where the physical search is terminated and no order is issued approving the physical search, no information obtained or evidence derived from such physical search shall be received in evidence or otherwise disclosed in any trial, hearing, or other proceeding in or before any court, grand jury, department, office, agency, regulatory body, legislative committee, or other authority of the United States, a State, or political subdivision thereof, and no information concerning any United States person acquired from such physical search shall subsequently be used or disclosed in any other manner by Federal officers or employees without the consent of such person, except with the approval of the Attorney General if the information indicates a threat of death or serious bodily harm to any person.

(6) The Attorney General shall assess compliance with the requirements of paragraph (5).

My understanding of this text:

1. The “notwithstanding” phrase means that this text supercedes checks and balances elsewhere in the bill.

2. If the President’s Attorney General determines there is an emergency, then government agents can engage in a physical search of anyone without a warrant, and continue that search for up to seven days.

3. After the fact, a secret FISA court judge will determine whether the warrantless physical search was actually for the purposes of collecting foreign intelligence information and whether a factual basis for the physical search occurred.

4. Regardless of whether the secret FISA court judge determines the warrantless physical search to be appropriate or not, the President’s Attorney General can use any information obtained in the search by invoking the need to protect the public from death or harm. Only the Attorney General can determine whether the Attorney General is right about this.

That’s an astounding amount of arbitrary, unchecked power concentrated in a member of the president’s cabinet. But there are no news organizations covering this aspect the bill, and no blogs either (save one). Why?