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URGENT UPDATE - CONTACT YOUR SENATOR ABOUT THE HOMELAND SECURITY AGENCY BILL

by Matt Ehling Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2002 at 6:26 AM
mattehling@yahoo.com

The Senate is poised to vote on the creation of the Homeland Security Agency. Language recently added to a House version of the bill - HR 5710 - contains grave threats to civil liberties in this country. It is important to contact your Senator this week to urge them to prevent the inclusion of the these dangerous provisions in the Senate version of the bill, or to vote against it entirely if the language is not amended.

Background:

The Senate will soon vote on the creation of the Homeland Security Agency, which will consolidate domestic security departments from the INS to the Coast Guard into one centralized federal agency. The Senate is currently looking at two House versions of the bill, HR 5005, and HR 5710 as it attempts to fashion its own legislation. The recently introduced HR 5710 contains two provisions that place civil liberties in this country in dire jeopardy:

Section 304 (Conduct of certain public health related activities) provides for mandatory smallpox vaccinations of all citizens if the Secretary of Health and Human Services declares an “actual or potential public health emergency”. The duration of the emergency would be determined by the Secretary, rather than congress, and citizens who refuse the inoculation would be subject to imprisonment or quarantine. Citizens would also have very limited legal recourse to sue the government or the manufacturers of the vaccine for injuries or death resulting from the inoculations.

Section 307 (Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency) authorizes the creation of the HSARA, which will operate the “Total Information Awareness System” currently being researched by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency. This is a massive electronic surveillance program that would search for patterns of “terrorist activity” in reams of public and private computer data and records. All information about U.S. citizens available through public and private sector records would be analyzed by this system, effectively eliminating the privacy rights of United States citizens.

Senate contact information can be found at thomas.loc.gov. It is urgent that you call, fax, or e-mail today. The Senate vote will likely happen this week.



DRAFT LETTER:



Dear (senator),

In am writing in reference to the Homeland Security Agency legislation currently being debated by congress. The creation of the Homeland Security Agency would constitute the single largest restructuring of the federal government since World War Two. The powers vested in, and the resources commanded by this agency would be enormous. Because of this, I am writing to urge your careful consideration of the bills that seek to create this agency.

You should be aware that recently adopted language in a House version of the bill - HR 5710 - contains grave threats to our civil liberties, and that these provisions should not be included in any Senate version of the bill. These provisions are:

Section 304. Conduct of certain public health related activities. This provision provides for mandatory smallpox vaccinations of all citizens if the Secretary of Health and Human Services declares an “actual or potential public health emergency”. The duration of the emergency would be determined by the Secretary, rather than by congress, and citizens who refuse the inoculation would be subject to imprisonment or quarantine. Citizens would also have very limited legal recourse to sue the government or the manufacturers of the vaccine for injuries or death resulting from the inoculations.

Section 307. Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency. This provision authorizes the creation of the HSARA, which will operate the “Total Information Awareness System” currently being researched by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency. This is a massive electronic surveillance program that would search for patterns of “terrorist activity” in reams of public and private computer data and records. All information about U.S. citizens available through public and private sector records would be analyzed by this system, and would be available to the Homeland Security Agency without a warrant, effectively eliminating the privacy rights of United States citizens.

These provisions should not be included in the Senate Homeland Security Agency bill. If these provisions are included in the final legislation, I strongly urge you to vote against the bill. There are many ways to safeguard the security of our nation without sacrificing our unique and hard-won liberties. Please take this matter into consideration when you cast your vote.

Sincerely,

(name)

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