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Stopping Congress from screwing up the Internet, again.

Earlier this year, people from all over the Internet rallied to stop SOPA and PIPA, the Internet censorship bills. That was great, but now members of Congress (and the telecom and media companies) are once again trying to destroy the Internet. With SOPA, they tried to give the government wide-ranging authority to shut down huge portions of the Internet. This time they're going to destroy the your privacy. But not if we can help it.

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One of the things that became clear in Congress’ push to pass Hollywood’s web censorship bills is that powerful corporations and the federal government do not want the rule of law to apply on the internet. The attitude that our basic freedoms and legal protections are somehow not valid on the internet is partly just the kind of reaction you would expect from entrenched powers whenever new technologies emerge, but it’s also a response to the particular peer-to-peer features of the internet that threaten to make their key sources of power -- control of information flow -- less relevant.

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Is This Bill Discriminatory?

September 21, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Included in an authorization bill that the Senate Homeland Security Committee is marking up today is a provision that would require DHS to take special measures to counter violent domestic extremism, particularly among communities that practice a certain religion. Here's the language:

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While Obama's Bush tax cuts deal stews in the Senate, Democrats in the House are kickstarting a last-ditch effort to pass a repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" before the lame duck session ends. House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer [D, MD-5] and Rep. Patrick Murphy [D, PA-8] are introducing a stand-alone repeal bill today that will be identical in wording to the Senate's stand-alone bill (S. 4023), and they plan on bringing it to a vote in the House Wednesday before they move on to the tax cuts.

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The Inside Story of How the Climate Bill Died

October 3, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

By historical standards, the 111th Congress has been incredibly prolific. But on the most important issue facing humanity right now, they never even got so far as introducing a viable bill in the all-important upper chamber.

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DADT Ruling Puts Pressure on Congress to Act

September 10, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

A district court judge in California has preempted Congress and ruled "don't ask don't tell" unconstitutional, calling it a facial violation of the First and Fifth Amendments. Even though President Obama favors repealing the policy, which bans gay men and women from serving openly in the military, the ruling puts the administration in a bit of a bind.

Normally, the President would appeal any district court decision that strikes a federal statute, and, as Jason Mazzone at Balkinization explains, in this case, the administration has additional legal reasons to appeal -- shoring up the requirments of what constitutes a facial challenge, and showing deference to the military in a time of war. On the other hand, Obama and leaders in the military both want the policy repealed, and they are probably worried that Congress won't act on the repeal while the Democrats still hold enough of a majority to get it passed.

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Joe Lieberman's [I-CT] controversial cybersecurity bill, the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010, was approved by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs this afternoon. Though some senators on the committee raised concerns over certain sections, today's committee action means that the bill will now move to the Senate floor.

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Several bills to address cybersecurity lapses have been introduced in this session of Congress only to stall over concerns that they would give the President broad powers to step in and shut down access to the internet at will. But Sen. Joe Lieberman [I, CT] is taking another stab at writing a bill that he thinks can move forward and become law. He recently introduced the bipartisan Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010, but does it do enough to assure that civil liberties will be protected in the case of an emergency?

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During their markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 this afternoon, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved an amendment from Sen. Joe Lieberman [I, CT] to repeal the Clinton-era "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and allow gay men and women to serve openly in the military. The Senate Armed Services Committee, which is much more conservative than the Congress as a whole, is where advocates of the repeal feared their efforts would get hung up, so, for them, this is a huge victory.

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American Power and Offshore Drilling

May 12, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Sen. John Kerry [D, MA] and Sen. Joseph Lieber man [I, CT] today unveiled details of their long-awaited American Power Act, which is a comprehensive bill designed to deal with the issues of climate change and energy independence. It's a draft right now, so we don't have it up on OpenCongress. As soon as we do, we'll be doing some more deep analysis of its provisions. But for now, it wanted to pass along some info on what the bill proposes for the energy topic du jour -- offshore drilling.

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As you no doubt have heard, federal agents last night arrested Faisal Shahzad, an American citizen suspected of planting the failed car-bomb in Time Square on Saturday. There isn't a lot of information out yet on how the arrest went down or whether Shahzad is connected to foreign terrorist groups, but Sen. John McCain [R, AZ] today is saying that if the agents read Shahzad his Miranda rights, informing him that he has a right to remain silent until he goes to court, they made a big mistake.

Thanks to a bill McCain introduced earlier this year, we know exactly how McCain thinks the arrest should have been handled. The bill is called the Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention and Prosecution Act and it empowers federal authorities to hand over terrorist suspects, called "unprivileged enemy belligerent" in the bill, to the military for interrogation and indefinite dentition without trial, even if they are an American citizen. 

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McCain and Lieberman's Nightmarish Detention Bill

March 13, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

One of Congress's most notoriously hawkish duos, Sen. John McCain [R, AZ] and Sen. Joseph Lieberman [I, CT], recently introduced legislation in response to President Obama's decision to try Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas Day airplane bomber, in a criminal court. Their proposal, which they are calling the Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention and Prosecution Act, would empower the U.S. military to arrest anyone, U.S. citizen or otherwise, who is suspected of terrorist associations and detain them indefinitely, without right to a trial.

Here's my analysis with links to specific sections of the actual bill text and a few excerpts of key sections.

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Lieberman Introduces DADT Repeal Bill

March 5, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Sen. Joe Lieberman [D, CT] on Wednesday introduced legislation (S.3065) that would halt the discharges of gay and lesbian service members and allow for the eventual repeal of the “don't ask, don't tell policy” banning gays from serving openly in the military.

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Gays In The Military Gain Joementum

February 22, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Sen. Joseph Lieberman [I, CT] is taking the lead on congressional efforts to repeal the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy banning gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

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Senators: No Civilian Trials For 9/11 Conspirators

February 3, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Two Senate Democrats are teaming up with Sen. Lindsey Graham [R, SC] to torpedo President Obama's plan to try 9/11 co-conspirators in civilian court.

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