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You've Been Drafted: Uncle Sam Wants You for the War on Drugs Drug Policy News May 18, 2005 by Bill Piper
I want to thank the over 4,400 people who have sent emails to their Representatives opposing Congressman Sensenbrenner's draconian mandatory minimum sentencing bill. This bill is now garnering national attention.
This bill would have serious consequences for our democracy, requiring you to spy on all your neighbors, including going undercover and wearing a wire if needed. Refusing to become a spy for the government would be punishable by a mandatory prison sentence of at least two years.
We alerted you last week to the bill, entitled "Defending America's Most Vulnerable: Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act of 2005" (H.R. 1528). Thousands of you have faxed Congress in opposition to the bill and we've already raised $2,000 online to fight it. Thank you!
We already told you about many of the terrible provisions in this legislation, but we are especially concerned about a section of the bill that turns every American into an agent of the state. Here's how it works:
If you "witness" certain drug offenses taking place or "learn" that they took place you would have to report the offense to law enforcement within 24 hours and provide "full assistance" in the investigation, apprehension, and prosecution of the people involved. Failure to do so would be a crime punishable by a mandatory two year prison sentence.
Here are some examples of offenses you would have to report to the police within 24 hours:
*You see someone you know pass a joint to a 20-year old college student.
*Your cousin mentions that he bought Ecstasy for some of his college friends.
*You find out that your brother, who has kids, recently bought a small amount of marijuana to share with his wife.
*Your substance-abusing daughter recently begged her boyfriend to find her some drugs even though they're both in drug treatment.
In each of these cases you face jail time if you don't call the police within 24 hours. It doesn't matter if the offender is your friend or relative. It also doesn't matter if you need 48 hours to think about it. You have to report the person to the government within 24 hours or go to jail. You also have to assist the government in every way, including wearing a wire if needed. Refusing to cooperate would cost you at least two years in prison (possibly up to ten). In addition to turning family member against family member, the legislation could also put many Americans into dangerous situations by forcing them to go undercover to gain evidence against strangers.
This is what we're up against in Congress and, as I told you last week, it's not going to be easy. Sensenbrenner, the chair of the powerful Judiciary Committee, usually gets what he wants. Lots of people are afraid to challenge him. But we have a duty to our children to stop our country from turning into a police state. I'm sure you feel this duty, as well.
Here's what you can do:
If you haven't already, please e-mail your member of Congress. Send us your creative ideas. How can we galvanize the American people against this bill? Email email@example.com .
If you didn't give money last week, please give today. Even $25 goes a long way (for instance, $25 will allow 100 voters to fax their members of Congress in opposition to this bill.)
Submit a letter-to-the-editor to your local paper urging your member of Congress to oppose the bill.
Send this email to everyone you know. Unless tens of thousands of Americans speak up this bill could become law. It's already passed out of subcommittee. The sponsor is now trying to line up the votes he needs to get it out of the full committee. From there it goes to the floor for a full House vote.
The provision that would turn Americans into spies is not the only thing wrong with this bill. Read the full text of HR 1528 and learn more.
I would be extremely surprised if that bill passed. It also seems unconstitutional: violating the right againt unreasonable search and seizure.
-------------------- "What is in us that turns a deaf ear to the cries of human suffering?"
"Belief is a beautiful armor
But makes for the heaviest sword"
- John Mayer
Making the noise "penicillin" is no substitute for actually taking penicillin.
"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." -Abraham Lincoln