Stop the Specter bill and save the Fourth Amendment!

July 19, 2006

The President's warrantless wiretapping program violates the Fourth Amendment prohibition against wiretapping Americans without a warrant, which must be obtained by showing a judge there is a valid reason for the search. Yet, instead of holding the president accountable, Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter has teamed up with the White House to draft S. 2453 (nicknamed the "Cheney-Specter bill"), which would legalize the illegal wiretapping program and any other current and future secret programs the administration wants to use to spy on Americans—without ever having to secure a single warrant.

If Specter's Senate Judiciary Committee approves S. 2453, it will head to the Senate for a floor vote. The bill would make the Fourth Amendment almost completely disappear. We must act now!

Please phone both your Senators today and ask them to oppose this bill. Look up their telephone numbers at . You may also click here\ = to send them a fax. Please forward this alert widely. What's so bad about S. 2453? Plenty! It's a win-win for Bush, a lose-lose for the people. Right now you can sue the administration for violating your Fourth Amendment rights. But if this lopsided bill passes, all cases involving warrantless surveillance would go to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, which is off-limits to your lawyer: Only the Administration's lawyers are allowed to present arguments before this court. The entire proceedings can be kept secret, including the court's decisions. Your case can be dismissed for "any reason" with no chance of appeal. But if the Administration's side loses, it has the right to appeal. And the secrecy doesn't end there. S 2453 goes even further than the USA PATRIOT Act: * by giving the President the authority to search your home and business with no warrant if war is declared, * by allowing the President the power to use roving wiretaps without a warrant, and * by removing protections, enabling the White House to conduct data-mining of Americans' private information. It's a blank check for the president. The President's program of electronic eavesdropping plainly violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that Congress enacted in 1978 to prevent warrantless domestic spying by the executive branch. But instead of asserting Congress's oversight authority to protect us from warrantless searches, this bill legalizes them and eliminates any meaningful checks by a court or Congress. If S. 2453 were to pass, the FISA Court could give the White House blanket authorization for its current warrantless eavesdropping program, and any other programs it desires. Individual warrants, one of the few safeguards that protect us from virtually unlimited surveillance, would disappear. It's not as advertised! Specter has claimed victory by bringing President Bush to the table with this bill. But his bait was irresistible for a president who claims absolute power and refuses oversight: Bush is even dictating to Congress that the bill pass with no changes. Both your Senators need to hear from you that S. 2453 is a sellout of our Constitution. Phone calls, personal visits, and handwritten letters delivered to your local Congressional office are best. Look up phone numbers at and call your Senators today. For quick and effective communication, send a free personalized fax, here\ = . To start engaging your community in this effort, click here .

The American people need the Fourth Amendment's protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. Congress doesn't need to pass new legislation – it must enforce the laws on the books. This bill, and not the Fourth Amendment, must die in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Thank you for all you do to defend our civil liberties!

The Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Informant: Marsha MCClelland


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