Patriot Act: Needs a Fix, Not Renewal

In response to President Bush's State of the Union Address, the ACLU Tuesday night issued a statement on the Patriot Act: Fix it, Don't Extend it.

Reflecting deep public discontent with anti-terrorism legislation adopted in the weeks after 9/11, the American Civil Liberties Union tonight urged Congress to reject President Bush's request that Congress make permanent controversial provisions of the USA Patriot Act.

"In his State of the Union address, President Bush once again preyed on Americans' fears and insecurities to justify extending the controversial USA Patriot Act," said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director.

"The sunset provisions of the Patriot Act that President Bush now wishes to override were designed to give Congress an opportunity in 2005 to see if the law was keeping America both safe and free," Romero said. "Amidst mounting criticism of the Act from Republicans and Democrats alike, Congress must not abdicate its responsibility and cave in to the President once again."

"While much of the Patriot Act is neutral legislation for civil liberties, it contains about a dozen provisions that simply go too far," Romero added. "These dangerous provisions increase the chances that innocent Americans will be swept into terrorism investigations by removing traditional checks and balances on law enforcement and oversight powers from the judiciary."

Among the provisions of the Patriot Act scheduled to sunset is the controversial Section 215, which allows the FBI to obtain orders for the production of any "tangible things" (which can include library, travel, genetic, health, business or firearms records) without any meaningful standard of judicial review and no mechanism for the person affected to challenge the order.

The Patriot Act will not make us safer. It does make us less free. Let your elected officials know where you stand. Tell them the excessive Patriot Act provisions must ride off into the sunset.

"As we strive to protect our country, we must remember to uphold the very freedoms we seek to protect," Romero said. "In the aftermath of 9/11 many liberties were curtailed, but now, millions of Americans are demanding that freedom be restored to keep America both safe and free."

Here's the fix we need. Sign-on to a congressional letter here.

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