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




Bringing LIBERTY to Capitol Hill -- 2008
Saturday Morning, February 23, 2008, 10:30am

A Discussion of The President's Saturday Morning Radio Address

Click here to listen to a replay of the February 23, 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. But the details can be found below.

President Bush's
Saturday Morning Radio Address

Another Perspective:
"Liberty Under God"

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This Thursday, Laura and I returned from an inspiring visit to Africa. In Benin and Tanzania, we met leaders who are fighting HIV/AIDS and malaria -- and people whose lives have been saved by the generosity of the American people. In Rwanda, we saw a nation overcoming the pain of genocide with courage and grace and hope. In Ghana, we met entrepreneurs who are exporting their products and building a more prosperous future. And in Liberia, we saw a nation that is recovering from civil war, led by the first democratically elected woman President on the continent. Laura and I returned to Washington impressed by the energy, optimism, and potential of the African people. U.S. Government aid to corrupt governments in Africa (and around the world) has been a massive failure. Most of it never reaches the powerless people who need help the most.


Foreign Aid and Economic Development

Members of Congress will soon be returning to Washington, as well, and they have urgent business to attend to. They left town on a 10-day recess without passing vital legislation giving our intelligence professionals the tools they need to quickly and effectively monitor foreign terrorist communications. Congress' failure to pass this legislation was irresponsible. It will leave our Nation increasingly vulnerable to attack. And Congress must fix this damage to our national security immediately. Intelligence professionals already have "the tools they need." And "We the People" have the tools we need to protect us from an untrustworthy government. 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 way ahead is clear. The Senate has already passed a good bill by an overwhelming bipartisan majority. This bill has strong bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, and would pass if given an up or down vote. But House leaders are blocking this legislation, and the reason can be summed up in three words: class action lawsuits. Republicans Block FISA Talks | Electronic Frontier Foundation
The Senate bill would prevent plaintiffs' attorneys from suing companies believed to have helped defend America after the 9/11 attacks. More than 40 of these lawsuits have been filed, seeking hundreds of billions of dollars in damages from these companies. It is unfair and unjust to threaten these companies with financial ruin only because they are believed to have done the right thing and helped their country. This is false and deceptive language.
First, "plaintiffs' attorneys" don't sue, plaintiffs sue. The suits are being brought by organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who also look into government-manipulated election technology.

Some of the cases

Many of these lawsuits are brought by non-profit organizations that don't have deep pockets to litigate extensive cases.

Second, these companies are not being sued by bad guys "only because" these companies are patriotic good guys. They're being sued because they violated YOUR privacy.

Suppose you hired a home security company, and later discovered that the company had installed video cameras in your bedroom to spy on your more intimate moments. Would you want to fire that company? Would you want to sue? Would it bother you that a peeping-tom company was threatened with "financial ruin?

Phone companies are being sued because they are listening to YOUR conversations and reading YOUR email -- not that of terrorists. Millions of ordinary phone conversations are involved, not a handful of conversations with terrorists in foreign countries. The issue is blank-check eavesdropping of domestic conversations. These companies are not being sued because they kept the law and protected America, they're being sued because they broke the law and are destroying our freedoms.

EFF says, "AT&T should have been standing up for you and your privacy. In this country we follow the law, we don't just follow orders."

But the highest cost of all is to our national security. Without protection from lawsuits, private companies will be increasingly unwilling to take the risk of helping us with vital intelligence activities. After the Congress failed to act last week, one telecommunications company executive was asked by the Wall Street Journal how his company would respond to a request for help. He answered that because of the threat of lawsuits, quote, "I'm not doing it ...I'm not going to do something voluntarily." In other words, the House's refusal to act is undermining our ability to get cooperation from private companies. And that undermines our efforts to protect us from terrorist attack. Americans should have the right to take phone companies to court to allow the Constitutional process to work out a determination of telecom liability. When you hired them, you paid for privacy. Your company should be liable for breaking the contract it made with you.

If the federal government gets a warrant, that represents the power to coerce. If the government has a warrant, it doesn't depend on "voluntary" cooperation. The government wants your phone company and internet provider to voluntarily let the government listen to your communication without legal warrant, depending on your telcom company to "voluntary" let the government spy on you.

"Cooperation" by phone companies with the government is often far from "voluntary."

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell recently explained that the vast majority of the communications infrastructure we rely on in the United States is owned and operated by the private sector. Because of the failure to provide liability protection, he says private companies who have "willingly helped us in the past, are now saying, 'You can't protect me. Why should I help you?'" Senator Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, puts it this way: "The fact is, if we lose cooperation from these or other private companies, our national security will suffer."

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.

There is no evidence that America is at greater risk without this extension. The government cannot point to a single phone call or email that it is missing right now.
When Congress reconvenes on Monday, Members of the House have a choice to make: They can empower the trial bar -- or they can empower the intelligence community. These lawsuits are not driven by "trial lawyers," but by people who value the Constitution. They are not "abusive" lawsuits. The question is not, "Do you support U.S. intelligence, or do you support trial attorneys?" That's an unethical way to phrase it, like, "Have you stopped beating your wife?" The question is, "Do you support the Constitution?" The Constitution says it's illegal for the government to spy on Americans without a warrant. Bush does not deny that the government has used telcom companies to spy on Americans who have no connection to terrorism;  Bush does not deny that illegal and unconstitutional acts have taken place; Bush wants retroactive immunity from prosecution for these illegal wiretaps. The intelligence community does not need unconstitutional powers.
They can help class action trial lawyers sue for billions of dollars -- or they can help our intelligence officials protect millions of lives. They can put our national security in the hands of plaintiffs' lawyers -- or they can entrust it to the men and women of our government who work day and night to keep us safe. The President and Republicans are seeking to derail the Constitutional process.
  1. By forcing the House of Representative to rubber-stamp the President's bill in the Senate, rather than exercising independent oversight. Republicans have walked out on talks, and are boycotting the constitutional process.
  2. By denying the Judicial Branch of Government the power to exercise constitutional checks and balances on Executive power.

Read this EFF: AT&T/NSA Class Action FAQ and ask yourself who really benefits from this litigation: trial lawyers or the American people and their Constitution.

As they make their choice, Members of Congress must never forget: Somewhere in the world, at this very moment, terrorists are planning the next attack on America. And to protect America from such attacks, we must protect our telecommunications companies from abusive lawsuits. 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. WHY are terrorists planning to attack America? This is the more important question to ask, not "Should the government have permanent, unaccountable powers to eavesdrop on America's domestic communication?" America needs to be once again a Christian nation that brings tangible and spiritual aid to the innocent. This would take the wind out of the sails of terrorist recruiters.
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:

"Voluntary" Cooperation?
  • Protecting America – From the President - by Paul Craig Roberts
    • Bush pressured telecom companies to break the law in order to enable his illegal spying. In court documents, Joseph P. Nacchio, former CEO of Qwest Communications International, states that his firm was approached more than six months before the September 11, 2001, attacks and asked to participate in a spying operation that Qwest believed to be illegal. When Qwest refused, the Bush administration withdrew opportunities for contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Nacchio himself was subsequently indicted for insider trading, sending the message to all telecom companies to cooperate with the Bush regime or else.
  • Has Bush Been Spying, Blackmailing Congressional Democrats?

Libertarian Resources:

Communicating with Government and Media

  • Contact Congress -- this is from the JBS website, powered by "CapWiz," from Capitol Advantage. Lots of organizations use capwiz. If you don't want to go through the JBS, search for capwiz on Google and find another organization that uses it.
    Notice that you can also contact media through this webpage.
  • Action E-List
    Sign up for the JBS Action E-List and be notified when you can make a critical difference on important issues.

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, Michigan Congressman John Conyers delivered the Democratic Radio Address, describing efforts to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

Since 1978, foreign intelligence wiretapping has been conducted under a law called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, commonly called 'FISA.' You may have heard dire warnings about our national security from the President – but let me assure you that FISA remains in effect today and allows for rapid court-approved wiretapping to collect foreign intelligence information, while protecting Americans' civil liberties.  
Last summer, Congress enacted temporary legislation that amended FISA to provide certain additional surveillance powers to the intelligence community. [The House and Senate passed differing bills to make these temporary changes permanent. These bills need to be harmonized.]  
Last week, because we knew that we would be unable to harmonize the Senate bill with the House versions on such short notice, I introduced legislation that would have provided for a 21-day extension of the short-term August law, which was otherwise due to expire on Saturday. Amazingly, the President opposed the extension, every House Republican voted against it, and the extension was defeated. Republicans Block FISA Talks
Why would the Republicans do that? Why would they let the temporary August bill lapse? Because the President wants permanent, blanket immunity from violating the Constitution. He does not want the Congress to debate the issue, uncovering the extent of Bush's illegal wiretapping; he wants unconstitutional immunity and unaccountability and he wants it now.

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