Getting up at 6am for a dental appointment sucks. However, getting up at 5am would've sucked much worse. Many thanks to evergrey and an0nymouscoward for letting me "beta test" their guest room. The futon was actually pretty comfy, once I found the right way to arrange myself. (The problem is that the main structural support runs across right where my hips wanted to be, which meant they tended not to sink in as much as would've been comfy. But lying on my back, shifted down a bit so that the bar was under the small of my back, which isn't a major weight area, worked pretty well.) In any case, it was good seeing you guys! :-)
Must drink more coffee, and stay awake for the opera tonight...
As your constituent, I urge you to support fixes to the PATRIOT Act and other government actions that threaten civil liberties.
I have read that the government can now collect information about the books I read, my purchases and my personal finances. With only minimal judicial review, government agents can now obtain many types of my personal records -- educational, medical, financial, sales, library, and others -- even if they have no probable cause to suspect a crime.
I believe that a hallmark of American democracy has long been that our individual privacy is protected against government intervention and snooping as long as we are not guilty of wrongdoing. "Black bag" searches -- now allowed thanks to the PATRIOT Act -- should not be permitted to continue.
I strongly urge you to support any effort to ameliorate the most controversial provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, such as the use of "sneak and peek" warrants and secret searches of library records, as part of the annual appropriations process. A significant PATRIOT Act fix has already passed in the House -- it is now the Senate's turn to take action.
Once again, I urge you to support fixes to the PATRIOT Act that threaten civil liberties.
As your constituent, I urge you to oppose the so-called "Victory Act" and other legislation that would unnecessarily expand law enforcement powers and diminish our civil liberties.
I have read that some members of Congress are pushing legislation that they have named the Victory Act that would allow evidence to be introduced into court cases even if it was gathered in an illegal manner. This would give federal agents the incentive to overreach the scope of their investigations and use improper surveillance techniques. Innocent people would inevitably be spied upon and investigated without proper court review.
I have also learned that, under the Victory Act, a new federal crime of "narco-terrorism" would bring mandatory penalties of 20 years to life imprisonment for the possession, manufacture, distribution, import or export of any amount of any controlled substance that "directly or indirectly" aids a "terrorist organization." Under this provision, low-level drug offenders could face life imprisonment for unknowingly buying or selling drugs to people connected with a terrorist organization.
I do not believe that the Department of Justice should be able to require a person to appear in their offices to produce records and answer questions without a warrant or oversight by the courts. This would remove key judicial review and create a situation prone to abuse.
Once again, I urge you to oppose the Victory Act and other government actions that threaten civil liberties.
I urge you to work to maintain the long-standing bipartisan moratorium that protects sensitive coastal waters of our country from new offshore drilling.
Specifically, please oppose including in the energy bill language that would require the use of disruptive seismic surveys and other invasive technologies to explore for oil and gas within the entire outer continental shelf, including sensitive coastal and marine areas. Seismic surveys using loud undersea explosive pulses have been implicated in severe declines in commercial fish catches, fatal strandings of whales, and harassment of other marine mammals. Such activities would be the first step toward overturning the moratorium on new mineral leasing activity on submerged lands of the outer continental shelf.
Senators can oppose outer continental shelf exploration and support the moratorium by cosigning the letter from Senators Boxer, Dole, Snowe, and Bill Nelson to Senators Domenici and Congressman Tauzin, the chairs of the energy bill conference. If you have already signed the letter, thank you for recognizing the importance of protecting our coastal and marine resources.
Oil and gas leasing and pre-leasing activity have been precluded in much of the outer continental shelf since the early 1980s as the result of annual bipartisan congressional action and a presidential executive order signed by former President George H.W. Bush and extended by President Clinton to 2012.
Please do all you can to prevent offshore oil development from threatening our nation's fisheries and our coastal tourism industry.