Three provisions of the so-called USA PATRIOT ACT are set to expire on February 28. You can learn more about them from our February 10 Dispatch.
Instead of letting these unneeded provisions lapse, Congress will likely extend them, perhaps 30 days, or maybe to the end of 2010. BUT THIS COULD HAPPEN AS SOON AS TODAY.
Worse, Congressional leaders will probably insert this extension in unrelated legislation. This is cowardly. This issue deserves an up-or-down vote on its own merits (or lack thereof).
You can borrow from or copy this letter . . .
My understanding is that Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi intend to attach the PATRIOT ACT renewal measure to an unrelated bill, at the last minute. This is wrong. The renewal deserves its own, separate vote.
It seems obvious to me that Reid and Pelosi fear . . .
* a floor debate in which Republicans will shamelessly attack Democrats for being "soft on terror"
* that civil libertarians will be angry if some Democrats vote for the extension
But these are exactly the kinds of debates, and stands, we need our representatives to have and to take. Plus, Reid and Pelosi are being silly if they think civil libertarians won't be angry about the extension being passed as a part of unrelated legislation. This will increase our anger, not diffuse it.
Please make the following case to Reid and Pelosi . . .
* the Constitutionality and effectiveness of these provisions deserve to be debated in both chambers
* this is a debate that the anti-PATRIOT side will win in the court of public opinion
* Americans have lost their fear of terrorism http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/11/rel1aa.pdf;
* if Democrats lose in the fall, it will definitely not be because they oppose these Patriot Act extensions
* combining unrelated legislation will increasingly be a reason for voters to switch control of Congress to another party
I demand that you oppose ANY bill that contains a Patriot Act extension, no matter how important you think the rest of the bill is. If the bill is really that important then the leadership will resubmit it without the unrelated Patriot Act provisions.
I also demand that you introduce DownsizeDC.org's One Subject At A Time Act to stop the corrupt and cowardly habit of combining unrelated bills into one package.
Because of the urgency of this issue, please also call your Representative and your Senators. Tell them to oppose the Patriot Act renewal. You can find their phone numbers when you log-in to the OSTA Campaign.