The ALCU site is accessible now. From that site, we'll call attention to three items:
1) Montana Bars Patriot Act Measures
Excerpt from that item:
The American Civil Liberties Union today applauded Montana for passing the strongest state-level resolution in the country against the Patriot Act. The bipartisan resolution calls on Congress to bring the controversial anti-terrorism legislation in line with the Constitution, and prohibits state agencies from participating in abusive federal security measures.
Montana is the fifth state legislature to speak out against the Patriot Act and joins more than 375 local governments that have passed similar resolutions defending essential liberties.
"We have had a broad-based and bipartisan expression of concern from so many members of the Montana House and Senate," said Scott Crichton, Executive Director of the ACLU of Montana. "Our legislature has today shown that standing up for core American constitutional values is not a red state or blue state issue: it unites people of all political persuasions. Now it time for our congressional delegation to listen to the voices of their constituents."
2) Patriot Act Abuses and Misuses Abound
Excerpt from that item:
A day before Congress begins its oversight of the controversial Patriot Act, the American Civil Liberties Union today responded to an inquiry by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) about abuses of the Patriot Act, saying that the Patriot Act has been abused and misused repeatedly by the government since its enactment.
"Despite the secrecy that permeates the Patriot Act, it’s clear that it has been abused and misused," said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director. "The government has committed these transgressions without apology or regret and has simultaneously sought to expand the powers granted under the Patriot Act. As Congress reviews the Patriot Act, we hope that it will fully examine these abuses and act to ensure that our civil liberties and privacy are not unnecessarily curtailed under the guise of national security."
"Although the Department of Justice has not been forthcoming, some abuses have seen the light of day," Romero added. "It is quite likely that there are many more abuses being kept hidden from the American public and Congress. Such secrecy is abhorrent to our rule of law."
Both the Senate and House Judiciary Committees are expected to hold oversight hearings on the Patriot Act this week. Lawmakers will only hear from administration officials at these inaugural hearings, and the ACLU has asked that members question Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller about the abuses and misuses of the Patriot Act.
3) Take Action
This ACLU page will assist you in locating your represenatitves and e-mailing them.
No one in our community needs a breakdown of why we oppose the Patriot Act. That's been a common thread that's joined us as a community from the beginning.
What do we need?
We need some reality.
Mary Matlin (I've met Matlin) can go on The Today Show (as she has many times) to "discuss" this issue) and claim that opposition to the Patriot Act is some liberal whatever. While she rolls her eyes and defends it.
Matlin can make herself the mouth piece of whatever she wants. The reality is that behind her spin, there is opposition to this legislation that cuts across party lines.
The reality is what you won't hear about in most coverage. Print will do a better job than TV but we're all aware that these days people are more inclined to utilize the TV for information than to pick up a paper.
If the people contacting their Congressional reps and discussing this issue were only the ones already involved in this issue, I think we'd stand a good chance of winning this round. Provided everyone's aware of what's being discussed in Congress today. Point, get the word out.
But any members who want to do more than contact their Congressional reps can do more by becoming the media. Find one person you know who cares about this issue or you think will care and make it a point to bring them up to speed regarding what's going on today.
Let them know what's at stake and let them know what resources are available.
Stress that a simple trip to the ACLU's web site and/or Congress.org will allow them to contact Congress and weigh in on this very important issue.
Ask yourself what's the one thing you can do today to get the word out to at least one person and try to do that.
On my end, it meant turning around and coming back here. Juggling this morning's schedule. On your end it may be something else. But this is one of those times where we should all reach deep inside and find that little bit of extra energy to do more than we would normally.
As you consider what you can do (Rebecca's having house parties today to gather friends over to contact Congress) remember that this piece of legislation was "prettied up" by stamping it with the name "Patriot Act." A lot of people have no idea what's in that act. They see or hear the title and think "Well I support my country, what's the problem?"
As you try to get the word out to one person in your circle, you may find that you have to do remedial work and pull out the building blocks to explain why action is needed.
If everyone in this community contacted their Congressional representatives, that alone would be pretty damn good. If you can try to inform one person in your life about what's going on, that would be even better. Jim & Ava (Third Estate Sunday Review) are going to work to get the word out on their campus today. That's great. If you can work towards informing more than one person, that's wonderful.
You know what's a realistic goal for you. Try to aim a little higher than you might normally and work towards that.
A number of members who can agree with some right-wing friends and family members on nothing else, can agree on opposition to the Patriot Act. That's because the issue crosses party lines and because it's fundamentally at odds with our Constitution.
So if you're thinking (as a few members in isolated areas may be), "Well all I've got around me are Republicans . . ." -- don't let that stop you. This is not a partisan issue.
And although it's been "prettied up" with a nice sounding name, the reality is that when people are informed of the contents of this act, they get it very quickly.
The usual question I've been asked after I've pulled out the building blocks is, "Well how could that have passed?" Fear mongering.
It was right after 9-11 and it was rammed through with no discussion. Many who voted for it expressed concerns afterward. These concerns are why the sunset provisions (due to go into effect) were attached to parts of the legislation.
I've spoken with members of the House who've stated that they wouldn't vote it for today (Democrats & Republicans). But the climate of fear immediately after 9-11 made it very difficult to vote against it. (Some House members did. In the Senate, Russ Feingold voted against it and he was the only senator to do so.)
So make it a point to say "no" to fear and "no" to silence in some way today and get the word out.
I've got to take a work related call but I'll try to get up one more post on this before leaving.
The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.