"The Senate Intelligence Committee is currently considering a draft bill that would not only renew the USA PATRIOT Act's worse provisions, but would also expand the government's power to secretly demand the private records of people who aren't suspected of any crime - without a judge's approval.
The Justice Department already has dangerously broad subpoena powers under the USA PATRIOT Act. PATRIOT Section 215 allows intelligence investigators to demand all kinds of private records about citizens who aren't suspected of spying or terrorism. PATRIOT Section 505, meanwhile, expanded the government's ability to use "National Security Letters" to secretly obtain data on private online and financial activities without court oversight or probable cause.
The new bill not only makes these highly controversial provisions permanent, it marries the worst aspects of the two, allowing new "administrative subpoenas" in national security cases that would let the government secretly demand all types of records without a judge's permission.
The Justice Department tried to get this super-charged subpoena power inserted into PATRIOT back in 2001. But even in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Congress refused to allow this kind of unchecked surveillance power.
If you are a resident of Kansas, Utah, Ohio, Missouri, Maine, Nebraska, Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia, Michigan, California, Oregon, Indiana, Maryland, or New Jersey, your senator is on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Contact them below."
Folks, this is happening right now, so it is very important that - if you live in one of the states mentioned above - you contact your Reps via the included mechanism in that page right now!
It's so like them to do this kind of thing right before a holiday weekend, when everyone's more concerned with holiday plans. Please don't let that tactic result in passage of this! Pete