Congressman Arcuri Squelches Debate On Bush Spying Law
Democrats of Trumansburg and Ulysses, is your member of Congress representing your values in Washington D.C.?
We disagree on plenty of things, but one thing I’ve recognized among all Democrats in the town of Ulysses is that they value free and open debate. Yet, on a significant piece of legislation that will be voted on in the U.S. House of Representatives today, there will not be free and open debate.
That’s because our Representative in Washington D.C., Representative Michael Arcuri, put forward H.RES.1285 yesterday. H.RES.1285 is a resolution to set the rules for debate for another bill – H.R. 6304, the FISA Amendments Act.
Congressman Arcuri’s resolution limited the debate on the FISA Amendments Act to just one hour, with the debate under the control of the chairman and ranking Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee. Both of these people support the legislation.
Why should you care? Isn’t this all just technical legislative boring stuff?
No. H.R. 6304, the FISA Amendments Act, does some very unboring things, as you’ll see if you actually take the time to read the proposed law, instead of just accepting the CNN 30-second summary.
Here’s what you’d find if you read the entire proposed law (not just the headers and summaries):
- The law allows the White House to conduct electronic spying against whomever it wants, including Americans in the United States who are not suspected of any crime, without any search warrant or meaningful court oversight. This includes:
A. Reading your email
B. Tracking your movements if you have a GPS device or cell phone
C. Keeping records of which web sites you visit
D. Listening to your phone calls
- The law allows the White House to order physical searches of Americans’ homes, places of work, and persons without any search warrant
- The same official who has authority to conduct the searches, the Attorney General of the United States, also has the sole authority to certify that the searches have been done properly, in accordance with the law. No one else in Congress or in any court will have the power to contradict the Attorney General’s self-certification.
Whether you agree or disagree with these provisions of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, it ought to be very clear that important and substantial issues are involved – issues that cannot possibly be properly addressed in a one-hour debate.
Mike Arcuri’s resolution to limit debate of this bill to one hour looks like an attempt to prevent meaningful discussion and review by members of Congress. It is a resolution that is against the values of open government and free debate that we Ulysses Democrats value.
The involvement of Congressman Arcuri in the effort to rush the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 through Congress without the opportunity for sufficient public debate is profoundly disappointing, and tarnishes his image at the very time when he is beginning his first re-election campaign.
When we have a lame duck President in George W. Bush, there is no excuse for this kind of spineless lack of resistance to the worst parts of the Bush agenda. Democrats were elected to a majority in Congress for a reason – it was to change the culture of Washington, D.C., not to go along with the flow as Congressman Arcuri is doing.
You can call Congressman Arcuri’s D.C. office at 202-225-3665.