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Thursday, May 18, 2006

United For Peace And Justice Leads Nationwide Call Congress Effort To Stop NSA Phone Surveillance

United for Peace and Justice on Wednesday, May 17 began an effort of people all over the U.S. calling their legislators in Congress and asking them to stop NSA phone surveillance.

At the end of this post you will find the organization's contact information. With the permission of United for Peace and Justice, the following announcement from the organization is reprinted here:



TAKE ACTION TODAY: National Call-In to Congress to Stop NSA Phone Surveillance

MAY 17th

Last December, we learned that President Bush had broken the law by allowing the National Security Agency to listen in on the phone calls of tens of thousands of people in this country.

On Thursday, May 11th, USA Today published a major cover story revealing a National Security Agency (NSA) database of millions of innocent peoples' domestic phone call records, indicating who, when and where we are calling. This database has nothing to do with catching suspected terrorists: It is documenting all our associations in the largest database in history -- with a goal of including "every call ever made" within the nation's borders!

Take Action Now
It's time for us to tell Congress in a clear, loud voice that we've had enough!

Today, Wednesday, May 17th, people from around the country will participate in the Congressional Call-In Day initiated by the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the ACLU, People For the American Way, and other organizations (see below). We will demand a Congressional investigation of this government intrusion immediately. If you can't make the calls today, then any day this week would be great. Let's keep those phones ringing in the Congressional halls all week long!

The Message Please phone each of your Senators, and your Representative. Urge them NOT to consider draft legislation that would give the executive branch new surveillance powers that are immune to oversight by the courts and Congress. Call for a full, public investigation of the NSA surveillance program.

Call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 (24 hours) and ask the operator to connect you. Or use the Bill of Rights Defense Committee call-in page to find your legislators' phone numbers.

Sample talking points:

Here are a few suggestions. Choose one or two:

The President has broken the law. He must stop warrantless eavesdropping and collecting records on all our phone calls and come clean about any further secret powers he claims as Commander-in-Chief.
The administration's claim that it must break the law to protect us from al-Qaeda are just plain false: Monitoring any communications targeting an al-Qaeda member outside the U.S. doesn't even require a warrant, and FISA judges are ready and waiting to issue warrants to wiretap any suspected al-Qaeda in the U.S. -- even if those calls include U.S. citizens or residents.

Overburdening the FBI with thousands of false leads makes us less safe because it leaves them less time and fewer resources to find the real terrorists.

How can Congress even consider passing legislation to make these illegal programs legal, when it can't even find out what they entail? It must investigate. This is no time for new legislation!

What's needed is an immediate, full and unrestricted public investigation into the NSA spying program, including a probe into the massive database collecting millions of peoples' phone calls.

The idea that the database of all our calls is permissible as long as it doesn't contain names and addresses is ludicrous. By linking the database of phone calls with all the other government data-mining operations, the government can literally follow our every move, every contact, and every transaction. It's "Big Brother" run amok!

Congress needs to pass whistleblower protections for government employees and safeguards for journalists who provide information about illegal government acts.

The Fourth Amendment is clear. Electronic surveillance of this sort requires a warrant. A warrant allows a judge to serve as a check against executive abuse of power. That check keeps our government honest -- preventing one branch of government from mischief and errors.

Organizations supporting the call-in day (partial list) include the Alliance for Justice, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Civil Liberties Union, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Privacy Information Center, First Amendment Foundation, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Liberty Coalition, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Coalition Against Repressive Legislation, National Lawyers Guild, Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances, People For the American Way, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, and United for Peace and Justice.

Note: Reprinted with permission of United for Peace and Justice
How to contact United for Peace and Justice:
http://www.unitedforpeace.org/212-868-5545

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