House Vote Imminent: Last Chance!

There’s More than just Meets the Eye in the Terror Bill
— Last chance to raise further points with your Rep.

(Thursday, April 18) — The Senate passed the terror bill yesterday by a vote of 91-8. The bill stands a good chance of passing in the House, unless Representatives can be made to realize that the bill still contains an expansion of wiretap capabilities — a provision that could serve as a killer amendment. Like peeling the layers of an onion, one finds more eye watering provisions the more closely one delves into the terror bill (the conference report on S. 735). This wiretap provision is difficult to detect because the word “wiretap” was deleted in the section title and is nowhere present in the section itself. This provision, along with one allowing banks to freeze the assets of politically incorrect groups (like gun groups), should serve as additional talking points for Mr. Haley Barbour and your Representative:

* Removal of protections against wiretapping wireless data. Do you send e-mail messages? Well, Section 731 removes the current protections against intercepting wireless data, such as e-mail and document transmission when done by a wireless modem or through a laptop connected to a cellular phone. These protections were originally enacted as part of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), a law that prohibits outside parties from intercepting private communications and requires government agents to get a warrant or court order before implementing any wiretaps. While this provision strips these protections, you won’t find the word “wiretap” anywhere in the section!

* Requirement of banks to freeze the assets of domestic groups in certain situations. Section 303 is another provision that could be used against politically incorrect groups. This section requires banks to freeze a domestic group’s assets if the bank believes — or is being pressured to believe by law enforcement authorities — that the group is acting as an agent for a foreign terrorist group. It does not matter that the domestic group is not, nor cannot be, labeled a terrorist group. The bank must freeze the funds. Moreover, there is no way for the group to appeal the bank’s action to freeze the assets.


* Keep the heat on the RNC’s Haley Barbour (ph: 202-863-8700, 202-863-8500; fax: 202-863-8774, 202-863-8820).

Keep trying to get through to him. We did check the new numbers we gave you yesterday and they do work. The reason that many of you can’t get through is that you guys have completely overwhelmed their lines! (Some of you have sent us some good ideas: copying a check that would have gone to them, making it out to another group, and then faxing a copy of the check to the RNC with an explanation why. Or, sending back RNC’s appeals for $ with a note explaining why they’re are not getting a contribution.)

* Contact your Representative’s office (1-800-962-3524 or 202-224-3121). Make sure they know that this bill contains an extension of the wiretap provisions. The same danger of abuse that forces gun owners to oppose gun registration constrains us to oppose non-warrant wiretaps. Both are similar in that both can help government authorities identify who gun owners are. And as long as gun owners remain a politically incorrect group, the selective application of banks freezing group’s assets will remain a threat to gun owner groups as well. (House could vote by 1 or 2 p.m. today.)

From yesterday: The bill gives the BATF a $40 million pay increase (Sec. 816); gives the BATF carte blanche to make recommendations for ammunition and firearms bans (Sec. 809); federalizes many state crimes, thus enlarging the BATF’s scope and jurisdiction (Sec. 702); severely damages the ability of the courts to rescue honest gun owners who are unjustly incarcerated (Title I); allows the government to use “secret evidence” against certain individuals (Title IV); and potentially punishes gun dealers because they should have known the box of ammunition they sold someone would be used in a violent crime (Sec. 706).