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Our Capitol Hill Insider, Elizabeth Letchworth is keeping us up to date with Congress’ attempts to give the President an Internet kill switch.  Tea Party Nation’s Judson Phillips is warning against it.  From the Honorable Elizabeth Letchworth of GradeGov.com:

“The Senate Leader introduced this bill as a placeholder for the 112th Congress. He wants to use it to push Jud., commerce and Homeland security committees to write cyber security legislation. Don’t be surprised if the Senate has a vote on this soon to show that cyber security is important to Congress, especially given the Egypt situation and the closing down of the internet. As always, the devil is in the details and S. 21 is vague to say the least.”


In an effort to resolve the rules impasse that stalled the opening day house-keeping organizational resolutions in the U.S. Senate, the two Senate leaders engaged in a colloquy (formal discussion or conference) on Jan. 27, 2011.

In this colloquy, the two leaders conceded the following:

Senator McConnell:

“And, in my Caucus, I have many Senators who have complained that the Majority Leader has abused his ability to “fill the amendment” tree, preventing Senators from offering and debating amendments that they believe are important, especially when a matter has not gone through committee or cloture is filed too quickly.”

Senator Reid:

“As we have discussed, in the interests of comity and more open process in the Senate, we have agreed that we should use these procedural options of filling the amendment tree and filibustering the motion to proceed infrequently.  And, we’ll do our best to ensure that other Members of our caucuses respect this colloquy, as well.”

It is with this colloquy in mind that the Senate could see more bills introduced there that will have the same bland tone as was included in the text of S. 21. The text states the obvious, outlines a serious national problem, but doesn’t address any resolution to that problem.

The idea is that the Senate would first vote on the vague expression of the problem, like the language used in S. 21 bill. Once the Senate has voted on the “expression of urgency” wording included in bills similar to S. 21, a vote in support of would serve to insulate and protect Senators from criticism when they ultimately support follow-up legislation with “teeth”,  and resolve to address whatever serious issue is facing our nation.

Here’s the vague wording of Senate 21:

GRA11045 S.L.C.


To secure the United States against cyber attack, to enhance American competitiveness and create jobs in the information technology industry, and to protect the identities and sensitive information of American citizens IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES:

Mr. REID (for himself, Mrs. FEINSTEIN, Mr. KERRY, Mr. LEAHY, Mr. LEVIN, Mr. LIEBERMAN, Mr. ROCKEFELLER, and Mr. BINGAMAN introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on llllllllll A BILL To secure the United States against cyber attack, to enhance American competitiveness and create jobs in the information technology industry, and to protect the identities and sensitive information of American citizens and businesses.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Cyber Security and American Cyber Competitiveness Act of 2011’’.

Congress makes the following findings:
(1) Malicious state, terrorist, and criminal actors exploiting vulnerabilities in information and communications networks and gaps in cyber security pose one of the most serious and rapidly growing threats to both the national security and economy of the United States.

(2) With information technology now the backbone of the United States economy, a critical element of United States national security infrastructure and defense systems, the primary foundation of global communications, and a key enabler of most critical infrastructure, nearly every single American citizen is touched by cyberspace and is threatened by cyber attacks.

(3) Malicious actors in cyberspace have already caused significant damage to the United States Government, the United States economy, and United States citizens: United States Government computer networks are probed millions of times each day; approximately 9,000,000 Americans have their identities stolen each year; cyber crime costs American businesses with 500 or more employees an average of $3,800,000 per year; and intellectual property worth over $1,000,000,000,000 has already been stolen from American businesses.

(4) In its 2009 Cyberspace Policy Review, the White House concluded, ‘‘Ensuring that cyberspace is sufficiently resilient and trustworthy to support United States goals of economic growth, civil liberties and privacy protections, national security, and the continued advancement of democratic institutions requires making cybersecurity a national priority.’’

(5) An effective solution to the tremendous challenges of cyber security demands cooperation and integration of effort across jurisdictions of multiple Federal, State, local, and tribal government agencies, between the government and the private sector, and with international allies, as well as increased public awareness and preparedness among the American people.

It is the sense of Congress that Congress should enact, and the President should sign, bipartisan legislation to secure the United States against cyber attack, to enhance American competitiveness and create jobs in the in formation technology industry, and to protect the identities and sensitive information of American citizens and

(1) enhancing the security and resiliency of United States Government communications and in formation networks against cyber attack by nation states, terrorists, and cyber criminals;

(2) incentivizing the private sector to quantify, assess, and mitigate cyber risks to their communica

(3) promoting investments in the American in formation technology sector that create and maintain good, well-paying jobs in the United States and help to enhance American economic competitiveness;

(4) improving the capability of the United States Government to assess cyber risks and prevent, detect, and robustly respond to cyber attacks against the government and the military;

(5) improving the capability of the United States Government and the private sector to assess cyber risk and prevent, detect, and robustly respond to cyber attacks against United States critical infrastructure;

(6) preventing and mitigating identity theft and guarding against abuses or breaches of personally identifiable information;

(7) enhancing United States diplomatic capacity and international cooperation to respond to emerging cyber threats, including promoting security and freedom of access for communications and information networks around the world and battling global cyber crime through focused diplomacy;

(8) protecting and increasing the resiliency of United States’ critical infrastructure and assets, including the electric grid, military assets, the financial sector, and telecommunications networks against cyber attacks and other threats and vulnerabilities;

(9) expanding tools and resources for investigating and prosecuting cyber crimes in an manner that respects privacy rights and civil liberties and promotes American innovation; and

(10) maintaining robust protections of the privacy of American citizens and their on-line activities and communications.

Judson Phillips of the Tea Party Nation writes:

Imagine this.  An unpopular leader and an angry population taking to the streets with mass protests.   Egypt 2011?   No, America, 2009.

As riots grow in Egypt and debate rages whether Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak can remain in power, those of us in this movement need to be paying close attention to what is going on in Egypt.

There is the political aspect of this.  The drive for freedom, the rise of the Muslim brotherhood and other Islamists trying to take power and the response of an authoritarian regime.

The lesson we in the Tea Party movement need to be paying attention to is Egypt and the Internet.

In response to the crisis, the Egyptian government has cut off almost all Internet access to the country and has disrupted cell phone service.  They understand, if the opposition cannot communicate, they cannot be effective.

As someone who was here at the beginning of this movement, I can tell you how important the Internet was in getting this movement going and now in keeping it going.   At some point, someone is going to write the history of this movement, but I can tell you at the beginning, people who shared the same anger connected through social media such as Facebook.    The message about rallies got out through email and twitter.

Currently the Senate is considering an Internet “kill switch” bill.  (S.3480).  This bill would allow the President to shut down significant parts of the Internet in the event of a “National emergency.”  The most recent incarnation of this bill takes jurisdiction away from the courts to review any actions under this bill.

In short, this bill, if passed, would give Obama the authority to declare an emergency, shut Americans access to the internet down and there would be nothing we could do about it.

Is anyone else as alarmed about this as I am?

Obama is not a dictator, but he would be if he could.  Socialists do not like competition, particularly the competition of ideas.   Look at the efforts they have made over the years to shut down talk radio.  Look at Obama.   He cannot stand people criticizing him.   To call him thin skinned would be an understatement.

As conditions in America continue to go from bad to worse and the possibility of new, large demonstrations against the regime loom, do you think Obama would not hesitate to pull the Internet kill switch?

The Internet has revolutionized freedom.  In the days preceding America’s declaration of independence, messages took weeks to get from one group to another.  Today, thanks to cell phones and the Internet, ideas can go out to people immediately.  Information can go to people instantly and the regime cannot hide what it is doing.   The Internet has revolutionized democracy.

That is why Obama and his band of socialists hate Internet freedom and want to kill it.  This time, with this bill, we need to “kill the bill.”

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