You've probably heard about the 'Homeland Security' bill
that Bush is trying to rush through Congress during the
last hours of the lame duck session.
Quite simply, this is an incredibly scary bill. The House
passed the bill last week, and now the Senate is being asked
to rubber-stamp it TODAY -- on Monday Nov 18th. They've only
had a few days to master the complexities of this 500 page bill,
which has all kinds of weird riders attached to it -- last
minute additions that have nothing to do with security.
We're asking everyone to call their Senators first thing
Monday morning, before any votes, and demand that this bad
bill be stopped.
Just call your Senators at:
Ask them to put the brakes on the Homeland Security bill.
Ask them to take the time to know what they are actually voting
on. Ask them to amend the bill to protect our privacy from
the government's new "total information awareness" program
(see below). Ask them to defeat the new riders that have nothing
to do with security -- for example, protecting companies that
move their corporate addresses offshore to avoid taxes.
Ask them to protect the rights of federal workers.
Let us know you're making these calls at:
Senator Tom Daschle, under great pressure to pass this bill,
is trying to amend the worst provisions. If the bill
is amended it is likely it will be stalled until the next
Congressional session, so compatible House legislation can be
passed. This will at least give time for the bill to be read
and for Congress to come to an informed decision.
What's wrong with this legislation?
Although couched as a "reorganization," this legislation
is fundamentally a direct attack on federal workers'
rights to organize. The Bush administration is using the
fear of terrorism to essentially break the federal employees'
unions. It's a transparent and cynical maneuver, but it's
working. In a separate announcement last week, the Bush
administration outlined plans to also contract out nearly a
million federal jobs -- another way to convert a huge number
of middle class jobs into unprotected, minimum wage jobs, and
to reward the Bush administration's corporate benefactors.
What you probably haven't heard is that the bill contains
provisions that directly attack our civil liberties, giving
government immense new powers to invade our privacy.
Conservative columnist William Safire highlights these points
in a recent New York Times column we've attached below.
Just to top it off, this bill also contains last minute riders.
They've even included a provision to ensure that our government
can do business with the companies that avoid paying their fair
share of taxes by renting a post office box in Bermuda or
another offshore tax haven.
Who knows what else lurks in these 500 pages? Senator Byrd
gave an impassioned speech last week to ask the Senate to
at least slow down this bill so it could be fully understood.
Of course, what this all goes to prove is that when the radical
right feels it's on a winning streak, bipartisanship goes out
the window. It's time for Senators to draw the line. This can
be stopped in the Senate.
Please make your calls first thing Monday morning.
November 18, 2002
You Are a Suspect
By WILLIAM SAFIRE
WASHINGTON - If the Homeland Security Act is not amended before
passage, here is what will happen to you:
Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine
subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every
Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every
academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make,
every trip you book and every event you attend -- all these
transactions and communications will go into what the Defense
Department describes as "a virtual, centralized grand database."
To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial
sources, add every piece of information that government has
about you -- passport application, driver's license and bridge
toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from
nosy neighbors to the F.B.I., your lifetime paper trail plus
the latest hidden camera surveillance -- and you have the supersnoop's
dream: a "Total Information Awareness" about every U.S. citizen.
This is not some far-out Orwellian scenario. It is what will happen
to your personal freedom in the next few weeks if John Poindexter
gets the unprecedented power he seeks.
Remember Poindexter? Brilliant man, first in his class at the
Naval Academy, later earned a doctorate in physics, rose to
national security adviser under President Ronald Reagan. He had this
brilliant idea of secretly selling missiles to Iran to pay ransom
for hostages, and with the illicit proceeds to illegally support
contras in Nicaragua...
see more of this piece at