Saturday, March 4, 2006

Roots Project: ALL HANDS ON DECK

UPDATE, MARCH 7, 7:21 ET: Damn. But we're not done -- not even close. Click here to go to the front page...

UPDATE, MARCH 7, 2:30 PM ET: THAT'S IT - They're in their closed-door meeting now. Time to stop calling and start praying. I will post the outcome as soon as I know it from my contacts on the Hill. Keep your fingers crossed and think good thoughts.

And remember: win, lose or draw, we've done something over the past few days that has never, ever been done before: directed national attention, and thousands of constituent communications, at a relatively "minor" and unpublicized event, a simple closed-door committee meeting. And we haven't even begun to fight...
Original post:

We're not just in Kansas anymore, Toto. Bill Frist is threatening to unilaterally change the Senate Intelligence Committee’s rules to cut out the minority’s role unless the ranking Democrat, Jay Rockefeller, caves in on his demand for hearings on the warrantless NSA spying program. We have to move fast to make our voices heard.

I've written about how Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) promised ranking minority member Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) not just a vote on Rockefeller's motion for hearings into the warrantless NSA surveillance program, but hearings themselves. I've written about how Roberts broke that promise and infuriated Rockefeller here, what the "inside politics" were here and here, and how Roberts was "stung" by the negative feedback he received, especially from the major newspapers inside Kansas, here. I've written about the three crummy Republican proposals to bury the whole scandal here, and I've written about the heavy pressure Bill Frist, Roberts and others are bringing to bear on the two independent-minded (and Constitution-respecting) Republicans on that committee here.

Apparently those two honest Republicans are holding firm so far, because now Glenn Greenwald tells us that Bill Frist is threatening to bypass the Committee altogether by rewriting the rules to avoid hearings. Of course, Frist calls it necessary to ensure "oversight" due to Democratic "partisanship", but that's just Orwell-speak: it's really a partisan Republican effort to "disappear" the NSA scandal to avoid catastrophic Republican losses in next November’s Congressional midterm elections.

Basically, Frist is threatening to do to the Intelligence Committee what he threatened to do to the judicial filibuster: rewrite the Senate's rules to ensure the minority has no power and no voice. Godwin's law be damned: it's fascism, pure and simple, and it cannot be allowed.

One of these days the Democratic Senate leadership will figure out that bullies keep bullying until you punch them in the nose. Had they stood up as a group and successfully filibustered Alito, and stood their ground in the subsequent nuclear winter, we would not be having this problem. But they didn't, and we are, and so we citizens are back on the firing line, trying to give our leaders spine transplants. (Update: ReddHedd at FDL reports that Harry Reid did fire back rhetorically at Frist; let's hope he follows words with deeds.)

This means our current Maine-Nebraska Roots Project, and our recent Kansas Roots Project, are opening up. We need to fight on several fronts now:

1. EVERYONE: Read Glenn Greenwald's excellent piece. It's long, but you need to understand what's happening. Then take action:


KANSANS: If Frist succeeds, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts will LOSE power, because the committee he chairs will have been neutered. If he wants to remain a player in Republican party politics instead of a reliably-impotent lapdog, as well as honor his oath of office to respect and defend the Constitution, he needs to stand up to Frist and demand that his committee's rules be left alone. Kansans need to email, fax and call Roberts' DC and District offices and demand that he not permit the Intelligence Committee's rules to be changed. IDENTIFY YOURSELF AS A KANSAN. Contact info for Pat Roberts is under “Bad Guys.”

MAINERS AND NEBRASKANS: It's too late now to have Letters to the Editor published. Instead, email, fax and call Olympia Snowe's and Chuck Hagel's DC and local offices to praise them for standing firm and reinforce that we want them to resist Frist's meddling with the Intelligence Committee's rules AND to keep demanding real hearings into the NSA program, not just the whitewashes that DeWine, Specter, and Graham are proposing. IDENTIFY YOURSELF AS A NEBRASKAN OR MAINER. Contact info for Snowe and Hagel is under “Moderates/Swing Votes.”

NEVADANS: Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, is well-intentioned but weak when it comes to party discipline. Remind him how the Republicans are still stalling on the Iraq War Intelligence report, and urge him to support Jay Rockefeller and demand REAL hearings this time. Contact info for Harry Reid is under “Good Guys.”

WEST VIRGINIANS: Your Senator, Jay Rockefeller, is doing great work. Email, fax and/or call and tell him so, and urge him not to cave in and compromise on either the Committee Rules or on his call for hearings. We’re tired of compromise and want to fight, and damn the torpedoes. Contact info for Jay Rockefeller is under “Good Guys.”

TENNESSEEANS: Call, email and fax Bill Frist’s DC AND District offices and politely give him hell, both for trying to change the Intelligence Committee's rules and for trying to whitewash the NSA program instead of holding fair, bipartisan hearings. Let him know you’re a Tennessee voters and you’ll remember how he handles this situation when you vote next November. Contact info for Bill Frist is under “Bad Guys.”

3. EVERYONE ELSE IN AMERICA: This is no longer a primarily local effort. All Americans have the right to be heard, so make calls. Just run down the Contact Information list below: Good Guys (praise and encourage to stand firm); Moderate/Swing Votes (praise and encourage to hold hearings); Bad Guys (tell them you know what they’re up to with the Intelligence Committee rule change threat, and shame, shame, shame).

EVERYONE: USE YOUR OWN THOUGHTS AND WORDS: We're not Republicans and don't have an echo chamber, which makes us both more honest and more persuasive.

Fight hard and have fun. It all comes to a head Tuesday when the Intelligence Committee meets.


Main Capitol switchboard number (all Congressional offices): 888-355-3588
Committee direct telephone number: (202) 224-1700


Harry Reid (D-NV) (Senate Democratic Leader; well-intentioned but weak at enforcing party discipline. Tell him to stand up to Frist’s threat to change the Intelligence Committee’s rules; ask him to fight for a change even if it means a showdown, and to support Jay Rockefeller however he can.)
Telephone numbers
Main Capitol switchboard number (all Congressional offices): 888-355-3588
D.C. office direct line: 202-224-3542
D.C. office direct line toll-free from Nevada: 866-SEN-REID (866-736-7343)
Carson City office telephone: 775-882-7343
Reno office telephone: 775-686-5750
Las Vegas office telephone: 702-388-5020
Fax numbers
D.C. office fax: 202-224-7327
Carson City office fax: 775-883-1980
Reno office fax: 775-686-5757
Las Vegas office fax: 702-388-5030
Senator Reid webmail link

Rockefeller, John D. IV “Jay” (D-WV) (Ranking Democratic member and Vice-Chair, Senate Intelligence Committee; knight in shining armor, encourage him to keep fighting and not cave in)
Telephone numbers
Main Capitol switchboard number (all Congressional offices): 888-355-3588
DC office direct line: 202-224-6472
Beckley office phone: 304-253-9704
Charleston office phone: 304-347-5372
Fairmont office phone: 304-367-0122
Martinsburg office phone: 304-262-9285
Fax numbers
DC office fax: 202-224-7665
Beckley office fax: 304-253-2578
Charleston office fax: 304-347-5371
Fairmont office fax: 304-367-0822
Martinsburg office fax: 304-262-6288
Senator Rockefeller webmail link


Olympia Snowe (R-ME) (Member, Senate Intelligence Committee; swing vote; encourage)
Telephone numbers
Main Capitol switchboard number (all Congressional offices): 888-355-3588
Washington, D.C. office direct telephone: (202) 224-5344
Washington, D.C. office toll-free from Maine (800) 432-1599
Auburn office telephone: (207) 786-2451
Augusta office telephone: (207) 622-8292
Bangor office telephone: (207) 945-0432
Biddeford office telephone: (207) 282-4144
Portland office telephone: (207) 874-0883
Presque Isle office telephone: (207) 764-5124
Fax numbers:
Washington, D.C. office fax: (202) 224-1946
Auburn office fax: (207) 782-1438
Augusta office fax: (207) 622-7295
Bangor office fax: (207) 941-9525
Biddeford office fax: (207) 284-2358
Portland office fax: (207) 874-7631
Presque Isle office fax: (207) 764-6420
Senator Snowe webmail link

Chuck Hagel (R-NE) (Member, Senate Intelligence Committee; swing vote; encourage.)
Telephone Numbers:
Main Capitol switchboard number (all Congressional offices): 888-355-3588
Washington, D.C. (202) 224-4224
Omaha office (402) 758-8981
Lincoln (402) 476-1400
Kearney (308) 236-7602
Scottsbluff (308) 632-6032
Fax Numbers:
Washington, D.C. (202) 224-5213
Omaha office (402) 758-9165
Lincoln (402) 476-0605
Kearney (308) 236-7473
Scottsbluff Office (308) 632-6295
Senator Hagel Webmail link


Frist, Bill (R-TN) (Senate Majority Leader; leaning hard on moderate Republicans Snowe and Hagel to cave in on NSA hearings; threatening to change Senate Intelligence Committee rules to torpedo hearings if necessary to keep White House wrongdoing out of the limelight.)
Telephone numbers
Main Capitol switchboard number (all Congressional offices): 888-355-3588
DC office direct line: 202-224-3344
Nashville office telephone: 615-352-9411
Chattanooga office telephone: 423-756-2757
Jackson office telephone: 731-424-9655
Kingsport/Tri-Cities office telephone: 423-323-1252
Knoxville office telephone: 865-637-4180
Memphis office telephone: 901-683-1910
Fax numbers
DC office fax: 202-228-1264
Nashville office fax: 615-352-9985
Chattanooga office fax: 423-756-5313
Jackson office fax: 731-424-8322
Kingsport/Tri-Cities office fax: 423-323-0358
Knoxville office fax: 865-637-9886
Memphis office fax: 901-683-3610
Senator Frist webmail link

Pat Roberts (R-KS) (Chair, Senate Intelligence Committee; weak-kneed, encourage to rebuff Frist’s attempt to change the rules, and insist on having hearings rather than whitewash)
Telephone numbers
Main Capitol switchboard number (all Congressional offices): 888-355-3588
Washington, D.C. office direct telephone: 202-224-4774
Dodge City telephone: 620-227-2244
Overland Park telephone: 913-451-9343
Topeka telephone: 785-295-2745
Wichita telephone: 316-263-0416
Fax numbers
Washington, D.C. fax: 202-224-3514
(Also consider addressing faxes to Jackie Cottrell, Roberts’ Chief of Staff)
Dodge City fax: 620-227-2264
Overland Park fax: 913-451-9446
Topeka fax: 785-235-3665
Wichita fax: 316-263-0273
Senator Roberts webmail link

UPDATE, MARCH 7, 2:30 PM ET: THAT'S IT - They're in their closed-door meeting now. Time to stop calling and start praying. I will post the outcome as soon as I know it from Sen. Rockefeller's communications director. Keep your fingers crossed and think good thoughts.



The Heretik said...

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

You're an Oregonian. Did you write to Wyden? I did. ;)

Jobe said...

Thanks for all the hard work! Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Is there any way to demand that the "bad guys" in Congress have their paychecks withheld until they agree to perform their constitutional obligations and hold oversight hearing?

Anonymous said...

Good research, unfortunately Mr. Frist will not be seeking re-election for his Senate seat here in TN. Not like he listens to us anyway!

Eli Blake said...

Living in Arizona, I may call John McCain. Probably a waste of time, but every so often he stands up and throws a bomb at the White House or the Republican leadership just so he can show how 'independent' he is. This would be a good issue, and he's overdue for one.

Anonymous said...

I think I hit on a good meme: The Senate itself was designed specifically to give the smaller minority states a voice in the Legislative body, so Delaware and Rhode Island wouldn't be run roughshod over by Virginia and New York. Therefore, respect the tradition of your own Chamber and don't squelch the minority voice.

-M.H., Austin, TX

Anonymous said...

I'm reposting something I said above, as well:

No, this isn't the end; we're not summer soldiers. We gave Rove and Frist a MUCH closer shave than they expected, and they are going to pay a political price that, absent our efforts, they wouldn't have had to pay. And we built our network; every one of these battles makes us stronger. Seriously.

I'm not at all pessimistic; we're up against a tough team and I never thought winning would be easy.

That being said, I'm going to go get a beer now. I hope to see all of you here tomorrow, fresh, rested and ready to kick some ass.