Office of Public Policy
100 Maryland Avenue, NE Room 530
Washington, DC 20002
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October 26, 2004 marked the third anniversary of the USA PATRIOT Act. Since its passage in Congress shortly after the attacks on September 11, 2001, the PATRIOT Act has been a source of controversy. Conservatives and liberals have come together to critique its most aggressive provisions, which threaten civil liberties and upset the government’s system of checks and balances.
Unless Congress votes to reauthorize them, many of the PATRIOT Act’s invasive provisions are set to expire, or sunset, in December 2005. These include sections expanding government authority to conduct wiretaps and secret searches, intercept communication, and obtain access to consumer records.i In April 2005, the U.S. Congress began oversight hearings on the PATRIOT Act.
There are currently several bills in the House of Representatives and the Senate aimed at reforming the PATRIOT Act to provide better protections for civil liberties.ii The Security and Freedom Enhancement (SAFE) Act (S.737 in the Senate and H.R. 1526 in the House) places greater restrictions on wiretaps, increases privacy protections for library users, and redefines “domestic terrorism” to safeguard the rights of protesters and others engaged in civil disobedience.iii In the House, the Freedom to Read Protection Act (H.R. 1157) proposes changes that would protect the privacy of library and bookstore patrons.iv The Library, Bookseller, and Personal Records Privacy Act (S. 317) serves as the Senate’s companion bill to the Freedom to Read Act. The Library, Bookseller, and Personal Records Privacy Act sets reasonable limits on the federal government’s access to library, bookseller, medical and other personal information.v
The national grassroots movement to protect civil liberties continues to grow. Seven states and 378 counties and cities have passed resolutions to protect the civil liberties of their combined 61,664,449 residents. Civil liberties safety zones exist in Jerome, Arizona, Sarasota, Florida, Boise, Idaho, and the entire state of Alaska.vi
Make a pledge to write an op-ed or letter to the editor about the PATRIOT ACT!!
Mail your pledge to the address below.
See below for further directions and action steps.
I, (print name)____________________________________________________, commit to write an op-ed or letter to the editor on the PATRIOT ACT to (name of newspaper or magazine)_______________________________________________.
- Read the Book of Resolutions 2004, Social Principles, ¶ 162. III. The Social Community, pg. 46-56, and #253, Opposition to USA PATRIOT ACT to Violate Human Rights, pg. 642-643.
- For additional information on the USA PATRIOT Act contact the following organizations:
Bill of Rights Defense Committee Electronic Privacy Information Center
241 King Street, Suite 216 1718 Connecticut Avenue, NW Suite 200
Northampton, MA 10160 Washington, DC 20009
(413) 582-0110 (202) 483-1140
- Look in your community and identify examples of injustice towards people of different races and ethnic groups. Contact organizations in your area which work with immigrant communities to learn first hand about discrimination that immigrants have faced since the implementation of the PATRIOT ACT.
- Find out if your community is a civil liberties safety zone. Has your community passed a resolution to ensure the protection of your civil liberties? Find out by contacting your local government or the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) at the above address. Contact the BORDC to find out how your community can pass a resolution in your town, county or state to protect civil liberties.
- Write an op-ed or letter to the editor. Refer to your local newspaper for examples of op-eds and letters to the editor.
Below is a paragraph that you can insert into your op-ed or letter to the editor:
Since September 11, efforts to guarantee the security of US citizens have, in fact, diminished the security and rights of many immigrants in the United States. As a nation, we must insist that all immigrants receive full rights under the law and that they not be subjected to searches and detention based on race or ethnicity. The USA PATRIOT Act, enacted in 2001, includes broad powers of search and surveillance and has been a source of controversy from the start. Politicians across the political spectrum have critiqued its most aggressive provisions, which threaten civil liberties and upset the government’s system of checks and balances. There are currently several bills in the House of Representatives aimed at reforming the PATRIOT Act to provide better protections for civil liberties.vii Citizens across the country should pressure their members of Congress to support these bills and to challenge very restrictive immigration legislation at the state and federal level. At the same time, we need to be active locally to defend the rights of immigrants caught up in a web of surveillance, detentions, abuse and deportations.
Please send us a copy of your op-ed or letter to the editor. Please include the name of the newspaper you sent your op-ed or letter to. If your letter or op-ed was published please clip it from the newspaper and send it to us with the name of the newspaper and the date it was published.
Please mail your copy to:
Sung-ok Lee, Office of Community Action, The United Methodist Church Women’s Division, 475 Riverside Dr., Room# 1502, New York, NY 10115
i “USA PATRIOT Act Sunset,” Electronic Privacy Information Center, http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/usapatriot/sunset.html .
ii “Legislation aimed at preserving civil liberties,” Bill of Rights Defense Committee, http://www.bordc.org/threats.legislation .
iii The Library of Congress, http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c109:1:./temp/~c109ct0MM6:: .
iv “Freedom to Read Protection Act,” Congress Bernie Sanders website, http://bernie.house.gov/civil_liberties/index.asp .
v Bill of Rights Defense Committee.
vi “Resolutions Passed and Efforts Underway, By State,” Bill of Rights Defense Committee, http://www.bordc.org/list.php?sortAlpha=1 .
viiThe Security and Freedom Enhancement Act (S. 737 in the Senate and HR 1526 in the House), the Freedom to Read Protection Act (HR 1157) and the Library, Bookseller and Personal Records Privacy Act (S. 317) contain measures that would strengthen individual rights.
Jun 17, 2005