"Whether ours shall be a government of laws and not of men is now for Congress and ultimately the American people." Archibald Cox
This is the third of three diaries planned to orchestrate a campaign to inundate D.C. with expressions of outrage about President Bush's illegal use of the NSA. Bush has flagrantly violated the Constitution, the latest instance in a "long Train of Abuses and Usurpations." He has made himself an enemy of the Constitution and of the rule of law as such. If you had any doubts before, consider that the Attorney General indicated this morning that Congress gave Bush the authority after 9/11 to violate any laws he wished. What we as a nation do in the next few days may help to determine the future of constitutionalism.
This morning I'd urge everybody to concentrate on contacting your Senators and Reps. to ask for immediate action to hold Bush accountable. This afternoon, I'll update this diary to include further information about contacting journalists, but that can wait on events for now. This constitutional crisis is evolving quickly.
An overview of this campaign
There is an urgency to this campaign. We cannot allow Congress to recess without even trying to confront the President; we cannot allow weeks to be lost in dithering, the outrage to subside, the spin to rise like an evil tide engulfing us all. The moment is now. Bush's speeches on Saturday and Sunday show he is shaken by the revelation. I think this campaign touched a nerve; people are ready to help if we just ask. The single most important thing is to maximize the impact we have on politicians and journalists on Monday. We want to create a firestorm they'll remember.
GOALS (slightly modified from yesterday to take account of comments)
As far as possible, our declared goals must be as clear, straightforward, plausible, and uncontroversial as possible. The point is to throw into stark relief the illegality of the administration's policies and the nature of the constitutional crisis.
I propose that we ask each U.S. Senator today to demand that President Bush:
* immediately reverse this directive on domestic spying
* promise to desist in the future from warrantless spying on Americans
* cooperate fully with a bi-partisan investigation of the policy
* release the texts of the directives along with the legal opinions they were based on
* immediately petition the FISA court to grant warrants for all such surveillance conducted by this administration since 2001
* identify the number of residents of the US who were targets of unconstitutional surveillance between 2001 and 2005, and report to all appropriate Senate committees the name of any of those residents for whom the FISA court refuses now to grant a warrant
Contacting your Senator
Please contact both Senators whether they are a Feingold or a Roberts. The main thing will be to maximize the impact on D.C. on Monday, so that all 100 Senators know that Bush's use of the NSA has created a firestorm of protest. The most effective means of getting their attention are, in order:
(i) Faxing a letter
(ii) emailing the Senator's chief of staff. This address is unlikely to be widely advertised, but you can probably discover it by doing a few minutes of googling of fairly obvious strings. For example, if his name is Winston Smith and your Senator Duckspeak's general office phone is 202-432-5455, you might try searching for "wsmith@" plus "202-432", or "@Duckspeak.senate.gov" plus "chief of staff". I've done this many times with success.
(iii) phoning the general comment number for the D.C. office
(iv) sending a letter to the Senator's general email or webmail address.
There is no reason why you should not do several of these things.
Many of the main issues are outlined in the previous two diaries and in many other diaries at dKos and elsewhere. If you need a rapid overview of the issues, consult John Aravosis at America Blog, who's been all over this story.
Do not fail to put your Senator on the spot. The White House is trying to stamp out this crisis by shifting the blame for the policy of warrantless wire tapping onto Congress. The allegation they've been floating is that Congressional leaders were notified of it, and did not object. Both of those "facts" are suspect. Some Congressional Democrats, like former Sen. Bob Graham, have said they weren't notified that the new policy included warrantless wiretaps of Americans. Others, like Rep. Pelosi, have said that they did protest what they'd been briefed on. Any such were briefings evidently required that the information be kept secret.
We have too little information yet to determine whether any in Congress should be blamed for failing to blow the whistle on this unconstitutional policy. But it is highly likely that some of them will feel defensive about the issue--that is after all why Bush and Co. are spinning it that way. Therefore it is imperative to refuse to accept excuses, evasions, or delays from your Senators and Representative. Make sure they understand that if they do not confront the President about this, you will make sure that the focus shifts to them.
I suggest indicating that if the Senators do not take a decisive stand about holding Bush accountable before the recess, you'll consider it a dereliction of duty and you will try to build public pressure to force the Senate to reconvene immediately after Christmas to address this constitutional crisis. The Senators are sworn to defend the Constitution, not the President. You might warn that you'll organize protests outside their houses or district offices unless they act immediately.
Here is a gateway for contact info for all Senators: link
Contacting your Representative
This could be very useful in getting attention, especially if you take Peanut's advice. He points out that most Reps have webmail forms where constituents may post requests for assistance from their Congressperson. Well, we all have the same problem now: Were we spied upon by the federal government without a warrant? Why not bring it home to each of our Representatives how egregious that is, by inundating them with requests to investigate and report back whether your own privacy has been violated? Do not be put off by their assurances that you may file a FOIA request with the NSA. The federal government is out of control, and you should not be expected to take it on as an individual. It is your Representative's duty to see that justice is served. If they refuse to investigate on your behalf, promise to make that known in LTEs.
Of course, more ordinary communications with your Representative's office would also send a message. Here is a gateway to all House members' contact info: link
This afternoon I'll update by adding contact info for some specific journalists. The idea is to convey our outrage over this scandal and to help to shape coverage of this constitutional crisis by targetting some influential reporters. This will bring pressure upon politicians from another direction, and also create opportunities for those who are outspoken to take center stage.
There are plenty of massive media email lists available, if you have time to invest in mass mailings. Here is a link to one such list.
One of the most useful links is to a search engine at Congress.org. This permits you to identify contact information for specific journalits nationally. It is imperfect, a few important people are missing, but on the whole it is an excellent way to focus and personalize this part of the campaign to take the nation back from the brink. By all means, consider contacting your favorite reporters today.
Monday, December 19, 2005
This, the third of three diaries by smintheus at DailyKos, has been quoted in its entirety, something that it would take a Constitutional crisis for me to do. Read on, and get to work!