ACLU, American Conservative Union Launch New Radio Ads, Right-Left Partnership Calls for Fixes to PATRIOT Act

October 28, 2003 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union and the American Conservative Union today launched new radio ads to educate the public about fixes to controversial provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, and to urge listeners to contact their members of Congress to support a bipartisan measure that would restore privacy rights.

“The American principles of freedom and privacy are not limited to one political ideology,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Two years after its passage, we now know that some provisions of the PATRIOT Act compromise too many of our fundamental liberties. True patriotism demands a serious review and correction of these powers, and a commitment to ensuring that we remain both safe and free.”

“While most of the PATRIOT Act is reasonable, some provisions go too far in curtailing individual freedoms,” added David Keene, Chairman of the American Conservative Union, the nation’s oldest conservative organization. “It is ironic that the PATRIOT Act was passed to protect America and yet some of the new powers challenge the very essence of what defines us as a nation — our freedom and liberty. We hope that Congress will take the appropriate steps to implement a more proper balance between national security and civil liberties.”

The radio advertisements, which are running for the next two weeks, highlight how the PATRIOT Act has eroded civil liberties. Specifically, the ads highlight Section 213 of the Act, which authorized “sneak-and-peek” or delayed notification searches, and Section 215, which gives law enforcement access to personal records, including library, financial, medical and financial records. The advertisements are running in Alaska, New Hampshire, Florida and Virginia.

The PATRIOT Act has recently come under increased Congressional scrutiny and pressure. In July, the House of Representatives adopted, by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, an amendment offered by Rep. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R-ID) prohibiting the implementation of these “sneak-and-peek” searches. The Senate Judiciary Committee recently began a series of oversight hearings on federal anti-terrorism powers. Several Senators raised concerns voiced by the ACLU, ACU and others.

Both chambers of Congress are now considering the bipartisan Security and Freedom Ensured (SAFE) Act of 2003, a measure to curtail the broad surveillance and law enforcement powers in the USA PATRIOT Act. The Senate version, which was introduced first, lists Senators Larry Craig (R-ID) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) as its primary co-sponsors. Rep. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R-ID) introduced the House version of the bill last week, which lists Reps. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), John Conyers (D-MI) and Barney Frank (D-MA) among its original co-sponsors.

Across the United States, 200 communities — including three state legislatures — have passed resolutions calling for a fix to troubling sections of the PATRIOT Act. Many contain language calling for the most controversial provisions of the PATRIOT Act to be brought back in line with American traditions.

“The PATRIOT Act went too far, too fast,” the ACLU’s Murphy added. “Recent disclosures demonstrate that some powers granted under the Act are being used for purposes that have little or nothing to do with terrorism, lending credence to concerns about the potential for those broad powers to be abused.”

To listen to the radio advertisements that are running in Alaska, go to:

To listen to the radio advertisements that are running in Florida, go to:

To listen to the radio advertisements that are running in New Hampshire, go to:

To listen to the radio advertisements that are running in Virginia, go to:

For more on the ACLU’s campaign to Keep America Safe and Free, go to:

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