Thursday, December 15, 2005

NYT: "House Renews Terror Law; Opposition in Senate" (Sheryl Gay Stolberg)

The House voted Wednesday to renew the broad antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act, but opposition was growing in the Senate, where members of a bipartisan coalition predicted they would block the measure by filibuster when it comes up for consideration on Friday.
Faced with the filibuster threat, the White House sent Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to the Republicans' weekly policy luncheon to assuage concerns that the law does not strike the correct balance between safeguarding civil liberties and protecting national security.
[. . .]
The House passed the bill by a vote of 251 to 174. Forty-four Democrats voted for the bill, and 18 Republicans voted against it. Those Republicans included some of the most conservative members of the House - a sign, critics said, that members of both parties are uneasy about the bill. The critics are calling for a three-month extension of the current law to give both sides time to make changes.

The excerpt above is from Sheryl Gay Stolberg's "House Renews Terror Law; Opposition in Senate" in this morning's New York Times. Marci and Carl e-mailed to note this story.

What can you do? (Besides continue to follow the take action steps in the gina & krista round-robin.) NOW has it set up for one click action if you want to be heard:

"Oppose Reauthorization: USA PATRIOT Act Violates Our Civil Liberties"
Vote set for this Friday!
Act NOW.
Action Needed:
Please send a message to your Senators urging them to oppose reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT and Terrorism Improvement and Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2005 (H.R. 3199), which fails to include important reforms and poses a serious threat to individual privacy and to our precious civil liberties. The reauthorization of this controversial law would enact scores of new surveillance powers for the government, establish a number of new crimes, including new death penalties, and still permit secret eavesdropping and secret search orders. Safeguards that were adopted by the Senate earlier this year have been deleted and, alarmingly, most provisions in this final version would be made permanent, bypassing the critically important periodic Congressional reviews.
Senate Democrats are united in opposing this draconian re-write of the PATRIOT Act, and so are a number of Republicans, which makes victory possible. Sen. Russ Feingold (Wis.) and a number of both Democratic and Republican members are threatening a filibuster. The Senate is set to vote Friday (Dec.16). The more conservative House voted today 251 to 174 to adopt the reauthorization measure. So this makes it all the more critical to contact your Senators immediately. Please use our formatted message or write one of your own and urge your Senators to oppose this dangerous bill.
Take action NOW.

There's a reason to note that, Erika's organization that she'd like people to remember, people who have the money to do so this holiday season, is NOW. The people of New Orleans? NOW has stood with other groups. Peace? NOW has been there at the rallies and marches. Reproductive freedom? NOW supports it. Find an issue and NOW's not been silent. So if you have something to give this holiday season (if, no guilt), Erika would like for you to consider supporting an organization "that honestly supports us all."

Lloyd e-mails to highlight Matthew Rothschild's "Does 30,000 Mean Anything to Bush?" (This Just In, The Progressive):

Bush may have severely underestimated the total number of Iraqi dead. estimates that a minimum of between 27,383 and 30,892 civilians alone have died as a result of Bush's war. But it recognizes that this civilian count, which it bases on published news reports, is lower than the actual figure. "Our maximum therefore refers to reported deaths, which can only be a sample of true deaths unless one assumes that every civilian death has been reported. It is likely that many if not most civilian casualties will go unreported by the media. That is the sad nature of war."
Then there is the Johns Hopkins study from November 2004 in the Lancet that puts the death toll above 100,000. If that figure is correct, Bush is off by at least a factor of three.
While it's a relief, I suppose, to know that Bush understands that his war has killed at least 30,000 Iraqis, does even that figure mean anything to him?
He acted as though it was a totally acceptable number.
In fact, as
David Sirota has noted, Bush in the very next breadth made a joke as he interrupted the next questioner to say, "I'll repeat the question. If I don't like it, I’ll make it up." The White House transcript reads: "(Laughter and applause.)"
That is the definition of obscenity.
To segue from the deaths of 30,000 Iraqis and 2,140 U.S soldiers to a poor attempt at humor is to reveal a frightening callousness.

Rothschild mentions the John Hopkins study and yesterday, one of the co-authors of the study was a guest on Democracy Now! Here's (some of) what he had to say (from "Study Shows Civilian Death Toll in Iraq More Than 100,000"):

JUAN GONZALEZ: Welcome. Your reaction to the President finally saying something about the civilian deaths, and his numbers?
LES ROBERTS: I have a couple of reactions. I guess, politically, he has to downplay this issue, but for him to say a number, that of the eight estimates out there is probably the lowest one, really is not a strategic thing to do in terms of winning hearts and minds in Iraq. Secondly, I’m even more struck that here a year after our study came out, the first time the President has been asked about this was not by a reporter, but by someone from the public when he took a question.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And have you continued to do follow-ups on your initial study?
LES ROBERTS: Actually, we haven't. We just did our nationwide survey where we visited about 1,000 houses, mostly in September of last year, and asked them had anyone in their household died since January 1, 2002. So, there we had about 14 months before the invasion and about 18 months after. And we could compare in each household the death rate before and after. And since that time, we have not followed up. Iraqi Body Count has actually found a higher rate per day after than before, and another surveillance system, which has since gone defunct for lack of funding, called the NGO Coordinating Committee in Iraq, found something similar, but as far as us following up on the ground, no, that hasn't happened.

And now's a good time to say: Remember to watch, listen or read the transcripts of today's Democracy Now!

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