Security and Freedom Ensured Act
In the ‘70s the FBI tried to get professor Morris Starskey removed from ASU because he was active in left-wing organizations (www.themilitant.com/2001/6545/654549.html). Last year they attempted to question a group of anti-war demonstrators just to see if they could get anything on them, for no other reason than that they were against the war (Washington Post 5/18/05). The pretext was that the FBI was following up on a possible threat. Documents that came out later revealed it was just that, a pretext. One protester, Sarah Bardwell, gained special attention because she is associated with groups such as Food Not Bombs and American Friends Service Committee (Quakers).
Some in congress would like to expand the act further.
Chances are you don’t even agree with some of these provisions yourself. One
expansion the administration is proposing would allow the FBI to demand records
(of internet activity, accounting, medical records, etc.) without so much as
the approval of a judge or prosecutor. In a recent poll even Republicans
opposed this idea by 58 percent (Washington Post-ABC news poll, WP
To give an example of the act’s bad ideas, the FBI can demand a warrant from a judge without justification by saying the reasons are secret. They can then collect records from credit card providers or insurers or whoever, on everyone the company has records on. They can put a gag order on the company so they can’t even say there was such a request or even consult their lawyer about it (Wall Street Journal 5/19/05). The only ones who can oversee this are members of congress who get occasional general reports they agree not to disclose. It’s a secret within a secret within a secret within a secret. You don’t suppose that’s likely to lead to abuse, do you?
There is growing bipartisan opposition. Just last week
38 Republicans in congress voted with Democrats to try to limit one provision
of the act (WSJ
A bipartisan group of 38 legislators has proposed an
alternative they call the “SAFE” (Security and Freedom Ensured) Act. It leaves
most of the old act intact but adds a little more oversight. Among those
supporting it are both Democratic and Republican representatives of
Contact your legislator. Even if they’re already for the Safe act, the more support they can show, the better their chances of passing it.