Letters to the Editor

Congress wrongheaded, civil rights suffer under Patriot Act | Letters

The Patriot Act was extended for an additional four years on May 26, the day that three provisions of the Patriot Act were due to expire.

The three expiring provisions were: Section 215 that allows the FBI secretly to order anyone to produce business records or any other "tangible things", Section 206 that allows the FBI to wire tap phones and internet connections of individuals not involved in a crime, and Section 214 that allows FBI surveillance of foreign persons, not affiliated with a terrorist group, who used a device(s) of an entity under investigation.

We recognize that terrorism requires vigilance.

However, the Patriot Act is too broadly written and authorizes the government secretly to invade the privacy of innocent Americans who have no connection to wrongdoing.

Regrettably, and once again, Congress failed to amend the Patriot Act to add the necessary privacy protections. The Senate vote in favor of the 4-year extension was 72 to 23 and the House of Representatives vote was 250-153.

Significantly, the renewal was criticized by two Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, who attempted to stop the renewal, stated,  "I believe that when more of my colleagues and the American public come to understand how the Patriot Act has actually been interpreted in secret, they will insist on significant reforms too."

Senator Mark Udall of Colorado stated a similar warning.   

Senators Cantwell and Murray, and Representative Larsen, deserve praise for their votes against the extension of the Patriot Act and the renewal of the expiring provisions.

Please demonstrate that you too support civil liberties by saying thank you to our congressional delegation for their courageous and principled votes:  Maria Cantwell (202-224-3441), Patty Murray (202-224-2621), and Rick Larsen (202-225-2605).

— Submitted by the Steering Committee San Juan Island Chapter, ACLU of Washington, Friday Harbor, Washington.


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