May 4, 2011
How Congress Can Do Something by Doing Nothing
By James Wilson

Quote of the Day: "Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status." -- Laurence J. Peter, best known for the formulation of the 'Peter Principle'

Some provisions of the Patriot Act are due to expire. We have less than a month to fight renewal. Other groups are trying to reform the PATRIOT Act. We concentrate on repealing it, because that's what we want, and because it's also the best way to spur better reform. Toward that end . . .

I sent the following letter to my elected representatives this morning. You can copy or borrow from my comments to construct your own letter . . .

There are 160 provisions in the PATRIOT Act. A mere three of them -- some of the most dubious -- are set to expire in May. Please accomplish something good by doing nothing on this issue. Don't even hold a vote to renew these provisions. Just let them expire.  

I don't want the "roving wiretap" provision because . . .

Giving agents the power to wiretap with no name, phone number, or even permission required (Section 206), means they don't have to FOCUS on real targets for whom they have strong evidence. It's an invitation to distraction.

I don't want the "lone wolf" provision because . . .

Section 6001 authorizes the Federal State to get SECRET surveillance orders against individuals who are NOT associated with any international terrorist group or foreign nation. The Justice Department admits that the "Lone Wolf" provision has never been used. It wouldn't have added anything useful to prevent 9/11. (

If this power ever is used, it will be an abuse of power. Please remove the temptation.

I don't want the so-called "library provision" because . . .

Law enforcement officials have to focus on likely suspects, and to demonstrate probable cause to gain additional powers with which to pursue those suspects. But now, because of PATRIOT Act Section 215, FBI agents can simply claim that any items or information sought are "relevant" to an investigation. This is an invitation for the FBI to waste time on fishing expeditions, and perhaps even to target domestic political opponents.

All of these provisions violate the Constitution. Most have been abused.

None of these provisions have helped thwart terrorism. None would've prevented 9/11.

But all of these provisions are likely to distract the FBI away from potential terrorist threats. So . . .

Please honor your oath of office. Let these three provisions expire! And then . . .

Please introduce legislation to repeal the other 157 provisions! 


You can send your letter to Congress using's Educate the Powerful System.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: The Downsize DC Foundation participates in an active role with the Free Speech Coalition. Right now, there's a massive battle to regulate charities on the state level. State politicians want to burden us with  more paperwork, requiring more consultants and staff time, while also demanding that we spend less money on administration and fundraising. This inherent contradiction has a purpose -- to reduce the number of small charities, so that the large ones have less competition. This is how regulation works in the for-profit sector too. It's how we get problems like "too big to fail." We don't crow about our time on this project much, but your support of Downsize DC Foundation permits us to represent you in these mundane, but crucial matters.

We now only need to raise $304  to collect the matching pledge we told you about on Friday. Each dollar you donate, is going to be matched. Each new monthly pledge will be complemented with $2. Can you help us wrap up and collect this pledge today?

Jim Babka
President, Inc.

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