Missouri's 7th District, U.S. House of Representatives




Bringing LIBERTY to Capitol Hill -- 2008
Saturday Morning, February 16, 2008, 10:30am

A Discussion of The President's Saturday Morning Radio Address

Click here to listen to a replay of the February 16, 2008 Ozarks Virtual Town Hall

Notes and Summary of the President's Address -- "The Protect America Act"

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. At the stroke of midnight tonight, a vital intelligence law that is helping protect our nation will expire. Congress had the power to prevent this from happening, but chose not to.

How the President Differs from the American vision of "Liberty Under God":

  1. America's Original Foreign Policy
    The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible."
    — Washington, Farewell Address (1796) [Washington’s emphasis]

    I deem [one of] the essential principles of our government, and consequently [one] which ought to shape its administration,…peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.
    — Jefferson, First Inaugural Address (1801) 

  2. America was originally a "city upon a hill" -- Christian values and charity (economic productivity) were sent around the world. Trade created relationships. America built rather than destroyed. America was loved and admired.

  3. The Federal Government stopped heeding this wisdom 100 years ago. The 20th century has been a century of totalitarian foreign intervention. America sends bombs, not assistance and technology. America is feared and despised.

    1. Iran, 1953 -- U.S. installs dictator who is worse than the tyrant complained of in the Declaration of Independence

    2. U.S. intervenes in Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, funds Islamic terrorists to irritate Soviets.

    3. Iran-Iraq, 1980's -- U.S. supports Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran

    4. U.S. has military bases around the world

    5. Kuwait -- U.S. supports Arab sheik and his wives, ignoring the rights of Kuwaiti workers.

    6. U.S. Sanctions and Bombing against Iraq kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

  4. Washington's foreign bullying causes resentment, and increases terrorist recruiting.

  5. We would be safer and would have no "need" for permanent "emergency" wiretapping if Washington D.C. would follow the Constitution and America's Founding Fathers.

  6. The Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights

    1. "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

    2. Why was this important to America's Founding Fathers? Americans today do not know.

    3. Some people in Washington may sincerely believe that they need to ignore the Fourth Amendment in order to protect America from attack. Other people in Washington may know this is not true, but the power would be useful for other purposes.

    4. Virginia Declaration of Rights, sec. 10, (12 June 1776)
      10. That general warrants, whereby any officer or messenger may be commanded to search suspected places without evidence of a fact committed, or to seize any person or persons not named, or whose offence is not particularly described and supported by evidence, are grievous and oppressive, and ought not to be granted.
    5. The Bill of Rights: Searches and Seizures by Jacob G. Hornberger
      Summarizing the history of the Amendment and  showing that government officials love to
      "barge into people’s homes and businesses and conduct intrusive searches of the premises and of the persons who are unfortunate to be there at the time. If they find any contraband, including weapons, they seize it and take it with them. Not having to answer to any court, they operate with omnipotent power, and their searches and seizures ... are arbitrary and indiscriminate."
      We must bind down government with the chains of the Constitution, as Jefferson said. "Power tends to corrupt," as Lord Acton said.
    6. St. George Tucker, Blackstone's Commentaries 1:App. 301-4 (1803)
      The case of general warrants, under which term all warrants not comprehended within the description of the preceding article may be included, was warmly contested in England about thirty or thirty-five years ago, and after much altercation they were finally pronounced to be illegal by the common law. The constitutional sanction here given to the same doctrine, and the test which it affords for trying the legality of any warrant by which a man may be deprived of his liberty, or disturbed in the enjoyment of his property, can not be too highly valued by a free people.
  7. There is no need to discuss the details of the "Protect America Act": we should instinctively see its dangers and oppose it.

President Bush's
Saturday Morning Radio Address

Another Perspective:
"Liberty Under God"

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. At the stroke of midnight tonight, a vital intelligence law that is helping protect our nation will expire. Congress had the power to prevent this from happening, but chose not to. Timothy B. Lee, Cato adjunct scholar, comments:

"The last time Congress overhauled FISA, after the September 11 attacks, Pres. Bush stated that the new law 'recognizes the realities and dangers posed by the modern terrorist.  It will help us to prosecute terrorist organizations -- and also to detect them before they strike.' Those are the rules we'll be living under after the Protect America Act expires this weekend. There's no reason to think our nation will be in any more danger in 2008 than it was in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, or 2006.

The Senate passed a good bill that would have given our intelligence professionals the tools they need to keep us safe. But leaders in the House of Representatives blocked a House vote on the Senate bill, and then left on a 10-day recess.  
Some congressional leaders claim that this will not affect our security. They are wrong. Because Congress failed to act, it will be harder for our government to keep you safe from terrorist attack. At midnight, the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence will be stripped of their power to authorize new surveillance against terrorist threats abroad. This means that as terrorists change their tactics to avoid our surveillance, we may not have the tools we need to continue tracking them -- and we may lose a vital lead that could prevent an attack on America. "Harder" simply means that some bureaucrat will have to prepare a brief so a judge can see if the 4th Amendment is being protected. While the bureaucrat is typing, U.S. intelligence forces are already listening to the phone call they want to intercept. They don't have to wait before they can listen, they simply have to allow the Fourth Amendment to check their efforts after they have commenced.
In addition, Congress has put intelligence activities at risk even when the terrorists don't change tactics. By failing to act, Congress has created a question about whether private sector companies who assist in our efforts to defend you from the terrorists could be sued for doing the right thing. Now, these companies will be increasingly reluctant to provide this vital cooperation, because of their uncertainty about the law and fear of being sued by class-action trial lawyers.

Telecom companies cooperate with eavesdropping not out of the goodness of their heart, but because (once the executive branch has gotten the appropriate warrant) they’re legally required to do so. That will continue to be true after the PAA expires. And in any event, the law is pretty clear on this subject. The only “liability protection” they really need is to follow it.

For six months, I urged Congress to take action to ensure this dangerous situation did not come to pass. I even signed a two-week extension of the existing law, because members of Congress said they would use that time to work out their differences. The Senate used this time productively -- and passed a good bill with a strong, bipartisan super-majority of 68 votes. Republicans and Democrats came together on legislation to ensure that we could effectively monitor those seeking to harm our people. And they voted to provide fair and just liability protection for companies that assisted in efforts to protect America after the attacks of 9/11. Americans should have the right to take phone companies to court to allow the Constitutional process to work out a determination of telecom liability.
The Senate sent this bill to the House for its approval. It was clear that if given a vote, the bill would have passed the House with a bipartisan majority. I made every effort to work with the House to secure passage of this law. I even offered to delay my trip to Africa if we could come together and enact a good bill. But House leaders refused to let the bill come to a vote. Instead, the House held partisan votes that do nothing to keep our country safer. House leaders chose politics over protecting the country -- and our country is at greater risk as a result. There is no evidence that America is at greater risk without this extension. The government cannot point to a single phone call that it is missing right now.
House leaders have no excuse for this failure. They knew all along that this deadline was approaching, because they set it themselves. My administration will take every step within our power to minimize the damage caused by the House's irresponsible behavior. Yet it is still urgent that Congress act. The Senate has shown the way by approving a good, bipartisan bill. The House must pass that bill as soon as they return to Washington from their latest recess.  
At this moment, somewhere in the world, terrorists are planning a new attack on America. And Congress has no higher responsibility than ensuring we have the tools to stop them. At this moment, terrorists are telling children that the U.S. is an atheistic nation that kills innocent people, and these children are being recruited as terrorists. America needs to be once again a Christian nation that brings tangible and spiritual aid to the innocent.
Thank you for listening.  

Additional Resources:

White House Denials:

Myth/Fact: Five Myths About the House's Failure to Give Our Intelligence Professionals the Tools They Need to Monitor Terrorists Effectively

Kevin Craig's platform:

Libertarian Resources:

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John Adams once wrote that the American Revolution began in 1761, when Massachusetts attorney James Otis began legal challenges to the Writs of Assistance. He lost the case, but "American independence," Adams wrote, "was then and there born." Now do the math. That means it took 15 years to convince the rest of America to declare Independence (1776). Then another seven years of war was required before a Peace Treaty was signed (1783), and then six years before the Constitution was finally ratified (1789). That's almost 30 years. (And Jefferson said we shouldn't go 20 years without another rebellion!) How can we hope to convince Americans to fight for principles they were never taught in government schools? We need to be in this battle for the long term. "Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty."

The Democrat Party Radio Address:

This week, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, a former U.S. Attorney who serves on the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, delivered the Democratic Radio Address, speaking on the "bipartisan" "Economic stimulus package"

"Both the House and the Senate worked hard to pass bills to improve the Protect America Act, an ill-advised law Congress passed in a stampede last August. These bills strengthen the Protect America Act: for example, both, for the first time, protect Americans from being wiretapped without a court order outside the United States.  
"But the House and Senate bills are not identical, and in the American legislative process, the next step is a negotiation to resolve differences between the two bills. And Democrats stand ready to do that now. That is how our system has always worked. But the President doesn't want the legislative process to work - instead he has made an unrealistic demand that the House simply adopt the Senate version, and at his request congressional Republicans are preventing negotiations from moving forward. While a legitimate concern, the process of reconciliation of the two versions of the bill is an issue not as important as the overall issue of the Whitehouse's unconstitutional foreign policy, which violates the Fourth Amendment, needlessly kills thousands of innocent people, and creates anti-American resentment and energizes terrorist recruitment, making America less safe.
"America's bicameral system of government is designed to bring broad, bipartisan consensus to important laws. We're at the finish line. Letting the House and the Senate complete the process would strengthen support in Congress and among the American people, and give the intelligence community greater legal certainty for surveillance activities.  

Click here for a replay of this edition of the Ozarks Virtual Town Hall