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January 25, 2007

The Senator Doesn’t Know What He Passed

Today’s Downsizer-Dispatch . . .

In this issue

:* The 800-pound gorilla in our living room
* The Senator doesn’t know what he passed
* Media announcement


Everybody’s talking about it, except us. It’s the war in Iraq.

Those who’ve read the Downsizer-Dispatch for a while know that we often ignore the main topic of public discussion. And we do so for a reason. If everyone is talking about an issue, there’s probably a lot of passion involved, generating more heat than light. So it has been with Iraq.

But now things have changed. People have sobered-up about Iraq, and are starting to think about it, instead of just emote.

We also prefer to focus on Trans-partisan issues that have broad support across political lines. For a long time Iraq was not such an issue. Now, for several months, it has been. Public opinion has changed in an overwhelming way. People on all sides of the political divide now oppose the current policy. The various partisan tribes are merging and aiming in a common direction. Because of this . . .

We’ve wanted to take action on this issue for the last several weeks. The Congressional effort to regulate us, got in our way, and consumed our time. But even without that, we’ve been concerned that no one in Congress was proposing the correct way forward. There are a lot of ideas floating around, but we think nearly all of them are flawed in one way or another. We had just about concluded we would have to chart our own course.

Until this morning.

There is now a proposal in Congress that hits the nail right on the head. You probably won’t hear about it on the nightly news early on, but you’ll hear about it from us in just a few days. Get ready. Pay attention. We’re about to tackle the 800-pound gorilla. And we hope you’ll do it with us. Meanwhile . . .

There is other long neglected business to attend to. The last Congress did a lot of bad things. The new Congress was elected to fix many of these things. It has been slow to do so, but now that the House is through with its 100-hour legislative orgy there’s a chance we can get their attention. Let’s try to do that, starting here . . .


It happened before the election. Our Communications Director, Perry Willis, was out doing errands and listening to talk radio. Senator Kyl was being interviewed. A caller asked the Senator about the tribunal-torture bill and the elimination of habeas corpus. The Senator became irate. He nearly shouted, saying words something like the following . . .

“People keep claiming we eliminated habeas corpus. But it’s not true. The bill we passed does allow people to challenge their detentions. They can do it in the DC District court. And they can do it more than once. They can ask that their detention be reviewed every year or so.”

Perry says his jaw nearly fell on his car’s accelerator.

I understand his reaction. We had read the bill several times, going over it with a fine-tooth comb. From what we saw, the provision the Senator claimed was there, wasn’t there. But the Senator was adamant. Angry. Convincing in his conviction.

Could we be wrong? Could we have missed it somehow?

We went back and read the bill yet again. What Senator Kyl angrily claimed was there, just isn’t. But there is a section that specifically mentions the DC District Court, just as Senator Kyl did. It has nothing to do with challenging your detention. It has to do with challenging your conviction — assuming you ever get a trial.

A trial isn’t really required, because the tribunal-torture bill DOES eliminate habeas corpus!

Senator Kyl is simply wrong. Angry, yes, Adamant, yes. Convinced, yes. But also flat-out mistaken.

How is this possible? How could a big, high-powered U.S. Senator, be so in error about a law he helped create? And how could he so passionately misinform his constituents about the nature of that law?

There are several possibilities . . .

* Senator Kyl knows very well what the law he passed does, but prefers not to tell the truth about it.
* Senator Kyl read but did not understand the law he passed.
* Senator Kyl did not read the law he passed, and merely relied on garbled explanations for his understanding of it.

Any of these three explanations is possible. But we think the third hypothesis is most likely. We know Congress doesn’t read the legislation it passes. And if they don’t read it they stand very little chance of really understanding it. We had to read this legislation several times before we got all the nuances. And in fact, one of our first representations about this law was subtly wrong, and we had to make a public correction.

So there are two points to be made here

:1. The tribunal-torture bill does repeal habeas corpus, it is pure evil, and it needs to be repealed.
2. The “Read the Bills Act” needs to be passed, to make such evil less likely in the future.

Please click here and send a message to Congress asking them to repeal the tribunal-torture bill.

Then, please click here to send a message calling for the passage of the “Read the Bills Act.”

Mention that it has come to your attention that many in Congress may not have understood that the tribunal-torture bill really does repeal habeas corpus, because they did not take the time to read the bill before they passed it.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer. Please take note of the media alert beneath my signature.

Jim Babka
President, Inc.

NOTICE: Jim Babka will be on Newsmakers with host Peter Ferrand on WRJN AM 1400 in Racine, Wisconsin. The 30 minute interview will start shortly after 1 PM Central time. It appears there is no way to listen to the show on the Net.

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