Fighting Back Against PATRIOT Expansion

Not too long ago, Dave Winer at Scripting News pointed to an article in Wired News about some doings in Congress that slipped expansions of the PATRIOT Act into an unrelated bill.

When I read the article, it got me really upset. That’s exactly the sort of thing that undermines people’s confidence in government and their representatives. The more I looked into it, too, the more angry I got. But there didn’t seem to be any direct avenue for me to express my frustration.

I was struck, though, by one part of the Wired article. It described how 15 GOP congressmen broke with their party to vote against the bill, because of their concerns about the PATRIOT expansion. The House Republican caucus is known for its strong emphasis on loyalty (and punishing those who don’t show it), so it seemed to me that these fifteen Members of Congress had really done something remarkable — taken a stand on principle even when doing so might cost them down the line.

Now, I’m a Democrat, and most of these guys aren’t usually on my side. But I believe in supporting people who do the right thing. And I wanted some way to show these guys that there were people out there who supported their stand — that it was worth it for them to have done the right thing, even though they lost the vote.

So I used the PayDemocracy service to set up a campaign called “$15 for the Fifteen“. The idea is for people who want to send a message to these folks — that we’re with them in fighting PATRIOT, and that they should keep fighting the good fight — to go to that URL and put $15 into the kitty. That’s a dollar for each of the congressmen.

For most of us, $15 is nothing, but the power of the Web to aggregate lots of small contributions means that (in theory, anyway) we could pull together a powerful statement to the Powers That Be that there is a constituency out there that’s watching this issue, and is ready to stand behind the people who are on the right side of it.

For me, what it boils down to is a simple question — how much is your freedom worth? How much would you give to send a message to Congress that we’re sick and tired of seeing our civil liberties getting chipped away bit by bit? To me, it’s worth $15 — less than the cost of a CD, for Pete’s sake — to raise that banner high. Is it worth it to you? Here’s your chance to show that it is.

I’ve put in my $15. The rest is up to you.



December 15, 2003
6:37 pm

I’d contribute if they accepted PayPal.

Jason Lefkowitz

December 15, 2003
8:56 pm

Ah, c’mon… their processing fee is reasonable, and they’re legitimate and above-board (they’ve been written up in CNN and the Wall Street Journal, among other places).
Aren’t your civil liberties worth the hassle of maybe using a regular credit card transaction? Just once?


December 29, 2003
9:36 am

Blogger News Item

BTW, Wired News had an article about it in late November, I pointed to it and Jason Lefkowitz got angry and went into motion .

January 2, 2004
9:24 am

$15 for the Fifteen

Jason Lefkowitz has also been following the story about how the Bush administration outmaneuvered opponents of the Patriot Act II by incorporating some of its elements into Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal 2004 and so avoid public debate about…