USA PATRIOT ACT
weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Congress enacted the USA PATRIOT Act, a sweeping new law that was passed in great haste and
secrecy, and that many regard as riddled with flaws that seriously compromise our fundamental freedoms.
Bill of Rights Coalition is a diverse ad hoc organization composed of individuals and organizations concerned with the diminished
state of the nation's civil liberties. It is our position that the dangers we face today are not sufficiently addressed by
this ill-considered new law. On the contrary, we feel that the Act may constitute a greater danger to America than the one
it seeks to thwart. And we deplore what appears to be its fundamental assumption: that all of us are enemies of the state.
presently defined the Act:
· Permits clandestine searches of the homes of American citizens suspected of no crimes;
· Authorizes searches of the private records of libraries, businesses, physicians, hospitals, banks, schools and other
organizations without probable cause;
· Creates a vague new crime known as "domestic terrorism," applicable even to
· Authorizes arbitrary surveillance of religious services and political forums;
detention of American citizens without benefit of due process or counsel;
These activities are conducted in secret
with little oversight or public accountability. Many members of Congress who initially favored the measure are now inclined
to reject some of its more problematic provisions, but are encountering stiff pressure from the White House and its legislative
allies. In response many grass-roots efforts have sprung up across the nation to encourage Congress to take action to protect
quiet success of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee’s campaign may well explain the Bush administration’s failure thus far
to introduce most of what has been dubbed ‘Patriot II.’”
— David Cole, “Uncle Sam Is Watching You,”
New York Review
of Books, November 18, 2004
What is the USA Patriot Act?
by Kellie Gasink & William Pleasant
Party of Chatham County, Savannah Georgia
The USA PATRIOT ACT is an acronym standing for: "Uniting and Strengthening
America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act." This legislation was signed into
law on October 26, 2001 as Public Law No: 107-56. The USA Patriot Act is composed of 342 pages. Most lawmakers admit that
they never read the bill before voting on it. Put simply, from October 23 to October 26, a massive piece of legislation was
rammed through both the House of Representatives and Senate, without public hearings of any sort. It was sold as the legal
measures required to prevent future terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. In the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks, the American
people were gripped in fear. Any and all measures of self-protection seemed desirable. But in the hysteria, the President,
aided and abetted by both houses of the federal legislature, violated the U.S. Constitution and, in turn, stripped away the
basic civil liberties embodied in the Bill of Rights, in the name of "national security."
The USA Patriot Act (PA)
is composed of many laws already on the books that are designed to counter terrorism in the U.S. What distinguishes the PA
from these pre-September 11 laws is its ENABLING characteristics. Put simply, the criminal statutes, investigative rules and
court procedures which safeguarded our constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties in previous anti-terror legislation were
stripped away by the Patriot Act. They have been replaced by a system of Executive Branch fiat, now institutionalized in the
department of Homeland Security. How did the USA Patriot Act accomplish this feat? The USA Patriot Act clamps down on:
OF ASSOCIATION: Government may monitor religious labor, and political institutions without suspecting criminal activity, to
assist terror investigation.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: Government has closed once-public immigration hearings, has secretly
detained hundreds of people without charges, and has encouraged bureaucrats to resist public records requests.
OF SPEECH: Government may prosecute librarians or keepers of any other records if they tell anyone that the government subpoenaed
information related to a terror investigation.
RIGHT TO LEGAL REPRESENTATION: Government may monitor federal prison jailhouse
conversations between attorneys and clients, and deny lawyers to Americans accused of crimes.
FREEDOM FROM UNREASONABLE
SEARCHES: Government may search and seize Americans' personal records, business documents and telephone/internet activity
without probable cause to assist terror investigation.
RIGHT TO A SPEEDY AND PUBLIC TRIAL: Government may jail Americans
indefinitely without a trial.
RIGHT TO LIBERTY: Americans may be jailed without being charged or being able to confront
the witnesses against them.
While many Americans were led by the Bush administration to believe that the Patriot Act
was solely directed at foreign nationals in the U.S. who may pose a military threat to citizens and property (specifically
people of Southwest Asian and North African descent--a version of racial profiling), it swiftly emerged that the actual day-to-day
targets of the Patriot Act were U.S. citizens and legal aliens. Overwhelmingly, they have suffered the abuses of federal police
policies which have led to public humiliation, invasion of personal privacy, intimidation, movement control and monitoring,
capricious arrest and detention, and denial of legal remedy in the court system.
This document will demonstrate the
The USA Patriot Act was not necessarily a response to the September 11, 2001 Massacre, but an anti-civil
liberties agenda that has gray whiskers, which found political life in the fear and confusion that followed September 11,
The USA Patriot Act targets the civil liberties of Americans, and effectively stifles domestic political
dissent, religious freedom and labor union activism. It also promotes racial profiling as federal government policy.
and county governments can play a leading role in the popular movement to resist and repeal the USA Patriot Act and all legislation
and Executive Orders that violate the Bill of Rights.
SEDITION OR SEDATION
In an ironical twist of history,
the federal government, once viewed as the guardian of constitutional values against the political caprice of local governments--especially
in the South--is now the chief promoter of repressive extra-constitutional police policies, primarily based upon race, religion
and national origin, or perceived sympathy for proscribed categories of citizens and legal aliens.
In 1798, the United
States almost went to war with France, because the French objected to the U.S. Treaty with England and, consequently, began
attacking U.S. shipping. The famed XYZ Affair emerged as the bloody shirt of the time. The official U.S. government story
was that three French officials demanded bribes from U.S. diplomatic envoys in exchange for receiving them. President John
Adams refused to divulge the names of the alleged French extortionists, hence they became known as X, Y and Z. Nonetheless,
Adams released the alleged and inflammatory diplomatic exchanges between the Frenchmen and the U.S. government. America became
outraged and furiously rattled its saber. The war cry was: "Millions for defense, not one cent for tribute!" The jingoistic
Federalist Party led the war-chant. The political products were the first surge in U.S. military spending and the first instance
of "bi-partisan" support for the limitation of Americans' civil liberties as a matter of law.
Anti-French fever swept
the land. Refugees from the French Revolution fled in terror. In retaliation for the alleged insult by the French government,
Congress produced the Alien and Sedition Acts.
The Alien Act allowed the President to arrest, imprison, and deport
"dangerous" immigrants on mere suspicion of "treasonable or secret machinations against the government." If a deported alien
returned, the President could imprison him for as long as he thought "the public safety may require."
Act made it unlawful for any person to write, print, publish, or speak anything "false, scandalous and malicious" about the
government, either Congress or the Executive, if it was done with the intent to defame or to bring the government "into contempt
or disrepute," or to excite the hatred of the people against the United States. The President determined who were the dangerous
aliens and who was defaming the U.S. government.
French high seas piracy and alleged diplomatic insult aside, the
Alien and Sedition Acts were actually targeted at American citizens and employed as a political tool of the Federalist Party.
The Alien Act was used by Federalists to keep out of Congress qualified Democratic candidates who had only recently become
U.S. citizens (such as Swiss immigrant, Albert Gallatin, who two years later became Secretary of the Treasury under President
Thomas Jefferson). The Sedition Law was used to arrest, prosecute and jail Democratic newspaper editors who dared to oppose
the John Adams administration.
The 1798 war hysteria gave the Federalist Party the green light to enact laws that
were employed to scapegoat immigrants and silence political dissent by violating the civil liberties of U.S. citizens. Thomas
Jefferson and James Madison answered President John Adams' attack on the Bill of Rights with the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions.(1,2)
These documents emphasized that states should and could reject unconstitutional laws that are enacted by Congress. This resistance,
lodged over 200 years ago, stands as the historical and constitutional bedrock of today's local government resolutions to
resist and repeal the USA Patriot Act; they take aim at both Congressional enactments and Executive Orders that abrogate the
U.S. Bill of Rights.(3)
THE PALMER RAIDS
The Alien and Sedition Acts got a new lease on life in the wake of
World War One, during the anti-labor union strike hysteria. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson appointed A. Mitchell Palmer
as his Attorney General. Worried by the revolution that had taken place in Russia, Palmer declared that communist agents were
planning to overthrow the American government. His view was reinforced by the discovery of thirty-eight bombs sent to leading
politicians and the Italian anarchist who blew himself up outside Palmer's Washington home. Palmer recruited J. Edgar Hoover
as his special assistant and together they used the Espionage Act (1917) and the Sedition Act (1918) to launch a campaign
against labor unionists, social radicals and leftist organizations.
As a consequence, at least ten thousand legal
immigrants and citizen dissidents were rounded up in the so-called Palmer Raids. They were subjected to indefinite detention
without charges or due process under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. At least 240 legal aliens were deported,
including the radical feminist Emma Goldman.
During World War II, Japanese Americans were placed in internment camps
simply because they were Japanese. Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Executive Order No. 9066 led to the wholesale loss of jobs,
businesses and homes by U.S. citizens of Japanese descent. Not until 1990 did the U.S. government acknowledge this breech
of constitutional norms and apologize. Ultimately, the wartime internment of Japanese Americans cost the U.S. taxpayer $1.2
billion in reparations to the victims of illegal detention.
During the 1950s, McCarthyism ushered in an era of social
paranoia that resulted in public denunciations, witch hunts, black-listing and, in a few instances, jailings. The operative
legal policy was guilt by association with any organization or activity that threatened "national security," relative to the
Cold War competition between the US and the USSR. Under the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI carried McCarthyism into
the 1960s and 1970s, long after the political influence of Senator Joseph McCarthy had been discredited and dismantled.
FBI's COINTELPRO (The Counter-intelligence Program) became the extra-constitutional vehicle by which social activist organizations
such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Black Panthers, the Puerto Rican Young
Lords, the American Indian Movement, the nascent Lesbian/Gay Liberation Movement and the broad organized opposition to the
Viet Nam War were targeted for espionage, infiltration and disruption by the U.S. government. These extra-constitutional activities
were carried out under Hoover's belief, endorsed by successive presidential administrations, that the upsurge of social activism
and the Black-led demand for civil rights in the U.S. were merely tactics in a strategy for the Soviet takeover of America.
LESSONS FOR TODAY
It is apparent that whenever this country has been faced with military, political or social
crisis, the leading sectors of society have resorted to violating the Bill of Rights and other Constitutional protections
in the name of an often dubious notion of national security. The costs of these measures to individuals and classes of victims
have been enormous, and have, historically speaking, accomplished little in promoting social cohesion or respect for government
institutions. They have only left generations of wounded and embittered people.
The USA Patriot Act is a direct descendant
of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act, a Clinton administration answer to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. James X. Dempsey and David
Cole state in their book, "Terrorism and the Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security,"
that the most troubling provisions of prior anti-terrorism laws, enacted in 1996 and expanded now by the USA Patriot Act,
"were developed long before the bombings that triggered their final enactment." Dempsey is the former assistant counsel to
the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights and Deputy Director at the Center for Democracy & Technology,
and Cole is professor of law at Georgetown University and an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights.
the 1996 Antiterrorism Act, Dempsey and Cole declare that "the much-touted gains in law enforcement powers" under that Act,
"produced no visible concrete results in the fight against terrorism." They add that the principles espoused in the Act "were
shown in case after case to be both unconstitutional and ineffective in the fight against terrorism." And importantly, the
writers insist that the United States government has not shown that the expanded powers it has obtained in the USA Patriot
Act are necessary to fight terrorism.
More specifically, the legal scholars show that it was the Reagan Administration
that initially proposed some of the most troubling provisions that eventually became part of the USA Patriot Act. When Reagan
proposed those provisions, Congress rejected them on constitutional grounds. The first Bush Administration then made similar
proposals, which were again rejected by lawmakers. Congress twice refused to enact the secret evidence provisions proposed
by the first Bush administration. Ironically, just prior to 9/11, Congress was about to pass a law repealing the secret evidence
provisions of the 1996 Antiterrorism Act.
The anti-constitutional provisions proposed by Reagan and the first Bush
administration included the resurrection of guilt by association--a relic of the McCarthy Era --political association as grounds
for exclusion or deportation, the ban on supporting lawful activities of groups labeled terrorist, the use of secret evidence
and the empowerment of the Secretary of State to capriciously designate any political or social group as a terrorist organization
without needing judicial or congressional review.
Several members of the House Judiciary Committee, both Democrat
and Republican, balked at the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act. Lawmakers repeatedly asked why new legislation was needed and how it
would help fight terrorism. Administration witnesses literally refused to answer lawmakers' queries.
legislation was doomed to defeat--but the Oklahoma City Bombing gave it a new life. The carnage was used as political justification
for the enactment of the very provisions lawmakers had previously found constitutionally suspect, and even more. Senator Orrin
Hatch tagged on one of his pet projects, namely the limitation of habeus corpus. This amendment severely constrained people
-- nothing to do with terrorism -- who were convicted in state courts from contesting their convictions in federal court.
The USA Patriot Act, in the same vein, amplifies the political goals of making it more difficult for citizens and
legal aliens alike to review or appeal government wrongdoing. It allows for indefinite detention of suspected (not "proven")
aliens, without probable cause of a crime, without a hearing or an opportunity to defend or challenge the evidence against
them, when they have not even been proven to be a threat and have already established a legal right to remain here. The only
process allowed the suspected alien is the "right" to go to federal court and sue the government for its abuses. And the USA
Patriot Act even makes that a dubious affair, since it allows, for the first time in US history, the introduction of secret
evidence and testimony in civil court proceedings. Moreover, a lawsuit against the federal government for abuses under the
Patriot Act can only be conducted before a judge, no juries allowed.
Dempsey and Cole warned that the changes in fundamental
law produced by the USA Patriot Act "are not limited to terrorist investigations at all, but apply across the board to all
"It's not a stretch to imagine that such a vague definition [of terrorism] could be applied
to labor unions, peace activists, and even political parties, if one or more members engaged in a violent protest that a law
enforcement officer concluded was intended to terrorize another group," charged Professor Peter Erlinder of Minnesota's William
Mitchell College of Law. "Homicide, first-degree murder, burglary-historically those are well-defined crimes. This definition
is so malleable, because it allows for law enforcement to make judgment calls on a case-by-case basis."
TERMS IN USA
PATRIOT ACT PRE-DATE 9-11
Without a doubt, the USA Patriot Act is the fruit of a pre-existing political agenda. This
is best illustrated by Section 218, which amended the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
intelligence agencies could use extra-constitutional means to gather information on foreign powers and their agents. When
an intelligence agency wanted to, for example, conduct a wiretap or search of a foreign agent it needed only to get an executive
certification that the purpose of the surveillance was to gather foreign intelligence information. The USA Patriot Act modifies
this language to say that it may only be a "significant purpose" for surveillance. The upshot is that, without probable cause
or judicial review, a member of the executive branch of government (FBI, CIA, DIA, etc...) can spy on anyone, and the information
may be used in a federal prosecution. In short, the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution has been slaughtered by the
USA Patriot Act.
Since 1980, federal courts have consistently thrown out intelligence information gathered under FISA
when it has been established that foreign intelligence gathering was not the primary purpose of the surveillance. The USA
Patriot Act removes that obstacle to investigative fishing by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Furthermore,
under the information sharing provision of Section 203 of the USA Patriot Act, information gathered in this way can now be
shared between intelligence and law enforcement agencies, for use as they see fit.
The USA Patriot Act is a political
animal, composed of claws, hair and teeth that have been growing for over two centuries. There has always been hostility to
the Bill of Rights and other constitutional measures which give citizens (and legal aliens) the right to judicial and political
remedy for governmental abuses. The USA Patriot Act is the latest and most dangerous expression of that political tendency.
When Abraham Lincoln tried civilians in military courts during the Civil War, the Supreme Court held, in Ex Parte
Milligan 71 U.S. 2 (1866): "Those great and good men foresaw that troublous times would arise, when rulers and people would
become restive under restraint, and seek by sharp and decisive measures to accomplish ends deemed just and proper; and that
the principles of constitutional liberty would be in peril, unless established by irrepealable law. The history of the world
had taught them that what was done in the past might be attempted in the future. The Constitution of the United States is
a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men,
at all times, and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit
of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine
leads directly to anarchy or despotism." (4)
Even in times of this nation's greatest domestic upheaval, there remained
the principles and courage to uphold the basic values of the U.S. Constitution. Can we, in 2003, dare to fail to do the same?
For more information, contact the National Coalition
to Repeal the USA Patriot Act, 22 West Bryan St., Savannah, GA 31401.
Toll Free phone: 1-866-237-7563. email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kellie Gasink is the coordinator of the National Coalition to Repeal the USA Patriot Act and is the Chair of the Green
Party of Chatham County/GPUSA. William Pleasant is the Communications Director for the Green Party of Chatham County.
1. Kentucky Resolution 1798
2. Virginia Resolution 1798
3. U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights 1791
Conservative Voices Against the USA PATRIOT Act
BARR, former Republican member of Congress (“Patriot Act divides Bush loyalists,” Washington Times, 4/5/2005)
Fourth Amendment is a nuisance to the administration, but the amendment protects citizens and legal immigrants from the government's
monitoring them whenever it wants, without good cause -- and if that happens, it’s the end of personal liberty.”
don’t care if there were no examples so far. We can’t say we'll let government have these unconstitutional powers in the Patriot
Act because they will never use them. Besides, who knows how many times the government has used them? They’re secret searches.”
GINGRICH, the former speaker of the House ("The Policies of War: Refocus the mission," San Francisco Chronicle, 11/11/03)
must ensure that the legal tools provided are not abused, and indeed, that they do not undermine the very foundation our country
was built upon."
"I strongly believe the Patriot Act was not created to be used in crimes unrelated to terrorism."
reports, including one from the General Accounting Office, however indicate that the Patriot Act has been employed in investigations
unconnected to terrorism or national security.
In our battle against those that detest our free and prosperous society,
we cannot sacrifice any of the pillars our nation stands upon, namely respect for the Constitution and the rule of law. Our
enemies in the war against terrorism abuse the Islamic law known as the Sharia that they claim to value. It is perversely
used as justification for their horrific and wanton acts of violence.
We must demonstrate to the world that America
is the best example of what a solid Constitution with properly enforced laws can bring to those who desire freedom and safety.
If we become hypocrites about our own legal system, how can we sell it abroad or question legal systems different than our
I strongly believe Congress must act now to rein in the Patriot Act, limit its use to national security concerns
and prevent it from developing "mission creep" into areas outside of national security.
Similarly, if prosecutors
lack the necessary legislation to combat other serious domestic crimes, crimes not connected to terrorism, then lawmakers
should seek to give prosecutors separate legislation to provide them the tools they need, but again not at the expense of
civil rights. But in no case should prosecutors of domestic crimes seek to use tools intended for national security purposes.
This war against terrorism requires Americans and American institutions to have the "courage to be safe," this courage
must include keeping to the American principles that have made this country great for more than 200 years."
"Butch" OTTER (R-ID) ("Otter to speak on Patriot Act dissent," Idaho State Journal, 11/9/2003)
"You cannot give up
freedom, you cannot give up liberty, and be safe. When your freedom is lost, it makes no difference who took it away from
you. (The terrorists) have won. What did they want to do? Take away our freedom. They've won in some cases."
LARRY CRAIG (R-ID), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee (“Senators join forces to roll back parts of Patriot Act,” Washington
[On the introduction of the Security and Freedom Ensured (SAFE) Act]
“This has nothing to do
with the current administration; it's about putting into effect the right law.”
“It's time we adjusted this law to
assure civil liberties are not being trampled.”
DAVID KEENE, Chairman of the American Conservative Union (“Civil liberties
advocates laud Sununu for stand on Patriot Act reform,” Manchester Union Leader, 10/16/2003)
“These are people who
are now taking a look at it and saying much of this is a good law, but let’s make sure we didn’t go too far. While the government
should have all the power it needs to protect us, it shouldn’t have all the power it’d like to have.”
Sen. LISA MURKOWSKI
(R-AK) ("Hatch alarms right over anti-terror act," Salt Lake Tribune, 9/15/2003)
"To date it appears portions of the
Patriot Act may have moved the scales out of balance"
GROVER NORQUIST, president of Americans for Tax Reform, board
member, National Rifle Association and American Conservative Union ("Hatch alarms right over anti-terror act," Salt Lake Tribune,
"I don’t know whether Hatch is slower to see this than other Republicans, but the Butch Otter vote was a
statement to the administration that Congress is not going to stand there like potted plants and accept everything they send
over. It’s been two years since 9-11, and for the administration to still answer the public's questions about how these powers
are being used with ‘Just trust us’ is insulting."
Rep. JIM LEACH, (R-IA) ("Latest Anti-Terrorism Proposals Not Likely
to Move Through Congress Quickly," Congressional Quarterly, 9/11/2003)
"There are very few acts of Congress that deserve
more careful oversight than the Patriot Act."
John W. Whitehead, President, Rutherford Institute (Memo on “Life, Liberty
and the Pursuit of Terrorists: A Rutherford Institute Response to Attorney General John Ashcroft’s ‘Patriot Act Tour’ and
Website,” 8/27/03 available at: http://www.rutherford.org/PDF/JWWPatriotActResponse.pdf)
“Attorney General Ashcroft
charges that passage of the Patriot Act radically changed ‘a culture of law enforcement inhibition’ in America. When the Act
restricts or weakens constitutional and statutory protections for fundamental rights of privacy and personal autonomy, including
a right characterized by the Supreme Court as being ‘as old as the Magna Carta,’ one can surely forgive a reasonable observer
for wondering whether, in throwing off “inhibitions” on law enforcement for the sake of its pursuit of terrorists, America
has carefully calibrated the ramifications of this authoritarian revolution for its continued commitment to the life and liberty
of all its people.”
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee ("Specter blasts part of anti-terrorism
act," Associated Press, 8/2/2003)
[On section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act]:
"I don’t think that’s any of the
government’s business. I don’t think what people read is subject to inquiry. What difference does that make? It has a chilling
effect on fundamental freedom of activity."
Sen. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK) ("Murkowski Proposes Changes to USA PATRIOT
Act to Protect Civil Liberties While Fighting Terrorism," Press Release from the Office of Senator Lisa Murkowski, 8/01/2003)
the tragic events of Sept. 11th there is no question that federal law enforcement agencies needed more tools and that Congress
needed to update our nation's anti-terrorism laws. But it is also clear that Congress has an obligation to make sure the law
is working as intended. We must strike a careful and constitutional balance between protecting the individual rights of Americans
and giving our law enforcement and intelligence officials the tools they need to prevent future terrorist attacks. To date
it appears portions of the Patriot Act may have moved the scales out of balance.
My goal is simply to make sure that
our laws are balanced. I want to make sure that law enforcement has all the tools they need to protect us, while also protecting
our individual freedoms and liberties - the very same principles upon which the United States was founded and that make this
nation so great today."
Rep. C.L. "Butch" OTTER (R-ID) ("House Lawmakers Limit Scope of Patriot Act Powers," Fox News,
"I think [law enforcement officials] are trampling on our rights and they are doing it in the name of trying
to protect us from domestic terrorism’"
Rep. C.L. "Butch" OTTER (R-ID) (Congressional Record, Page H7289, 7/22/2003)
Chairman, over 200 years ago when the formulation of this great republic was being put together, John Stuart Mill sat down
and probably put the essence of this government in writing better than anyone could. ‘ A people,’ he said, ‘may prefer a free
government, but if from indolence or carelessness, or cowardice, or want of public spirit, they are unequal to the exertions
necessary for preserving it; if they will not fight for it when it is directly attacked; if by momentary discouragement or
temporary panic, they can be deluded by the artifices used to cheat them out of it; or if in a fit of enthusiasm for an individual,
they can be induced to lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man, in all these cases, they are more or less unfit
for liberty. And though it may have been to their good to have had it for a short time, they are unlikely long to enjoy it.’
United States PATRIOT Act was well intentioned, Mr. Chairman, especially during a time of uncertainty and panic. However,
now we have had a chance to step back and examine it objectively. The legislation deserves serious reevaluation. While I agree
with some of the new powers granted to the Federal law enforcement authorities that may be, and I stress ‘may be,’ necessary,
many more are unjustified and are dangerously undermining our civil liberties.
We have the opportunity to revisit
these sections of the USA PATRIOT Act and to correct these mistakes from those first frenzied weeks after September 11, 2001.
One provision, section 213, allows delayed notification of the execution of a search warrant. It authorizes no-knock
searches of private residences, our homes, either physically or electronically. By putting off notice of the execution of
a warrant, even delaying it indefinitely, section 213 of the USA PATRIOT Act prevents people, or even their attorneys, from
reviewing the warrant for correctness in legalities.
These ‘sneak and peek’ searches give the government the power
to repeatedly search a private residence without informing the residents that he or she is the target of an investigation.
Not only does this provision allow the seizure of personal property and business records without notification, but it also
opens the door to nationwide search warrants and allows the CIA and the NSA to operate domestically.
whom the government has pledged to protect from terrorist activities, now find themselves the victims of the very weapon designed
to uproot their enemies.
It is in defense of these freedoms that I offer this amendment today to the Commerce, Justice,
and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for the fiscal year 2004 bill. This amendment would prohibit
any funds from being used to carry out section 213 of the USA PATRIOT Act as signed into law on October 26, 2001. Through
the passage of this amendment, Americans would have reinstated a different kind of security; one giving them renewed confidence
in their government in tirelessly protecting their individual freedom from unjustified and unnecessary intrusion.
secure at the expense of our freedom is no real security. Like many Idahoans who have come to me with their concerns about
the USA PATRIOT Act and in passionate defense of their freedoms, we must continue to examine our actions to correct our mistakes
to guard against the apathy or the indifference to safeguarding our liberties.
To these Federal agencies, it is a
house, it is a building, it is a business; but to us, Mr. Chairman, it is our homes, and there is nothing more sacred than
homes in America because it is the foundation on which we build our families. It is the arsenal in which the virtue and hope
of every generation resides, and it is the fundamental primer of any free people.
We can, with the adoption of this
first alteration to the PATRIOT Act, begin the reclamation of our title of a Nation as a people fit for liberty."
JAMES SENSENBRENNER (R-WI), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee (Statement of Chairman Sensenbrenner at House Judiciary
Committee Oversight Hearing on the Department of Justice, 6/05/2003)
"As I stressed during legislative consideration
of the PATRIOT Act, my support for this legislation is neither perpetual or unconditional. I believe the Department of Justice
and Congress must be vigilant toward short-term gains which ultimately may cause long-term harm to the spirit of liberty and
equality which animate the American character. We must maintain a fundamental commitment to ensure the protection of Americans
while defending the beliefs that make us American. To my mind, the purpose of the PATRIOT Act is to secure our liberties,
not undermine them."
Rep. WALLY HERGER (R-CA) ("Patriot Act seen as danger to civil liberties," Mount Shasta News,
"It’s a fine line we walk between our freedoms and having to defend ourselves. The Act has to be carefully
monitored so it is not abused and the innocent are not harmed."
Rep. DON YOUNG (R-AK) ("Young wants changes in Patriot
Act," Associated Press, 5/13/2003)
"I think the Patriot Act was not really thought out. I’m very concerned that, in
our desire for security and our enthusiasm for pursuing supposedly terrorists, that sometimes we might be on the verge of
giving up the freedoms which we're trying to protect."
[On the possibility that he would co-sponsor legislation introduced
by Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), that prevent judges on the FISA court from issuing warrants to search library and bookstore
records for "personally identifiable information concerning a patron."]
"It goes to show you I’m willing to look at
the right side of an issue. I think he’s right in this issue. I don't think it’s anybody’s business what I’m reading in the
JAMES GILMORE, Chair, Federal Commission on Terrorism Policy and former Virginia Governor ("Gilmore Cautious
Over State Of Security And Civil Liberties," National Journal: Technology Daily, 5/12/2003)
"I am not prepared to
say that the [USA] PATRIOT Act is being used in any unlawful way, but as citizens, we have a duty to be watchful of that,
particularly if PATRIOT Act II comes along."
Rep. CHRIS CANNON (R-UT), member of the House Judiciary Committee, ("Senate
OKs More Power for FBI Surveillance," Salt Lake Tribune, 5/10/2003)
[On Senator Hatch’s proposal to lift the sunset
clauses from the PATRIOT Act]
"On the House side, and I can assure in the Judiciary Committee especially, there is
not going to be much traction for Sen. Hatch's idea. It'’ just not going to go anywhere on this side, nor should it, from
"Nobody knows how this law is being used, that’s a fair knock, and if U.S. attorneys could do anything
they wanted, nobody would be safe. It’s going to take a while for [law enforcement] to adjust their procedures and their safeguards,
and if they are not forthcoming on what they are doing, they are going to get slapped really hard."
Chair, Federal Commission on Terrorism Policy and former Virginia Governor ("Gilmore: Security Must Not Come at Freedom’s
Expense," Daily Press, 5/9/2003)
"It’s almost un-American to think about challenging the law. I am not prepared to
say that the application of the Patriot Act is being done improperly. But as citizens and as lawyers, we need to be watchful."
BARR, former Republican member of Congress ("Both right and left condemn Patriot Act," The Hill, 5/6/2003)
a lot of people who say, ‘I don’t have anything to hide.’ But every one of us is subject to being criminalized."
NSA Whistleblower Alleges Illegal Spying
Employee Admits to Being a Source for The New York Times
By BRIAN ROSS
Jan 10, 2006 — - Russell Tice, a longtime
insider at the National Security Agency, is now a whistleblower the agency would like to keep quiet.
For 20 years,
Tice worked in the shadows as he helped the United States spy on other people's conversations around the world.
specialized in what's called special access programs," Tice said of his job. "We called them 'black world' programs and operations."
But now, Tice tells ABC News that some of those secret "black world" operations run by the NSA were operated in ways
that he believes violated the law. He is prepared to tell Congress all he knows about the alleged wrongdoing in these programs
run by the Defense Department and the NSA in the post-9/11 efforts to go after terrorists.
"The mentality was we need
to get these guys, and we're going to do whatever it takes to get them," he said.
Tice says the
technology exists to track and sort through every domestic and international phone call as they are switched through centers,
such as one in New York, and to search for key words or phrases that a terrorist might use.
"If you picked the word
'jihad' out of a conversation," Tice said, "the technology exists that you focus in on that conversation, and you pull it
out of the system for processing."
According to Tice, intelligence analysts use the information to develop graphs
that resemble spiderwebs linking one suspect's phone number to hundreds or even thousands more.
Tice Admits Being
a Source for The New York Times
President Bush has admitted that he gave orders that allowed the NSA to eavesdrop on a
small number of Americans without the usual requisite warrants.
But Tice disagrees. He says the number of Americans
subject to eavesdropping by the NSA could be in the millions if the full range of secret NSA programs is used.
would mean for most Americans that if they conducted, or you know, placed an overseas communication, more than likely they
were sucked into that vacuum," Tice said.
The same day The New York Times broke the story of the NSA eavesdropping
without warrants, Tice surfaced as a whistleblower in the agency. He told ABC News that he was a source for the Times' reporters.
But Tice maintains that his conscience is clear.
"As far as I'm concerned, as long as I don't say anything that's
classified, I'm not worried," he said. "We need to clean up the intelligence community. We've had abuses, and they need to
The NSA revoked Tice's security clearance in May of last year based on what it called psychological
concerns and later dismissed him. Tice calls that bunk and says that's the way the NSA deals with troublemakers and whistleblowers.
Today the NSA said it had "no information to provide."
ABC News' Vic Walter and Avni Patel contributed to this report.
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