Policy and News Updates for June 16, 2006

Policy Updates

[new] New House email policy blocks mass messages
The House of Representatives has introduced a troubling new feature to its Write Your Representative email service used by many House members. The new feature, called a Logic Puzzle, requires users to complete a simple math problem before an email can be sent to the Representative. This new feature will block emails sent for online campaigns through third party email systems, a common and useful tool for both nonprofits and concerned citizens.

Status: Logic Puzzles are currently in use by some Representatives. See a demo here.
Sources:Finding Fault With Logic of Congress’s E-Mail Plan [Washington Post]
Action: A sign on letter asking members of Congress to not use or disable the logic puzzle barrier to email communications is being coordinated by Kathy Mitchell at Consumers Union. Email Kmitchell at consumer.org by COB today (Friday June 16) to sign on your organization.

[new] Congress’s “compromise” on unwarranted spying
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter’s (R-PA) compromise bill on warantless spying passed through the Judiciary Committee on June 8. The bill, the National Security Surveillance Act of 2006 (S.2453), would give the President the option of using electronic surveillance without a court order. This follows an angry letter Specter sent to Vice President Cheney on June 7, chastising him for discouraging the executives of the major telecommunications companies from testifying before the Committee.
Status: The Judiciary Committee approved S.2453 on June 8.
Sources: S.2453 (Marked up version, obtained by the ACLU and Glenn Greenwald– PDF); CDT’s analysis of the Specter proposal (PDF); Specter’s letter to Cheney (PDF) [CNN]; Blind Man’s Bluff [New York Times editorial]

[new] Freedom Caucus to watch freedom of the press
A group of Senators and Representatives formed a bipartisan caucus last month, aimed at monitoring freedom of the press around the world. The Congressional Caucus for the Freedom of the Press, co-chaired by Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Mike Pence (R-IN), will gather information from experts and raise awareness among the general public and members of Congress.

Source: Press release from Rep. Schiff