ACLU Remains Focused on Fixing the Patriot Act to Protect American Privacy, Regardless of Length of Extension

December 22, 2005 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union today said that it would continue to fight for common-sense reforms to the Patriot Act in the wake of the move by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) to shorten the extension, passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, from six months to one month. A bipartisan majority in the Senate, with 52 Senators signing a letter calling for an extension earlier this week, supported the six-month extension but the critical issue is not the length of the extension but whether needed checks and balances will be added to the law. The Senate is expected to meet later tonight to consider the new sunset date.

The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“Regardless of the length of the extension into next year, the most important issue is the need to reform the secret powers expanded by the Patriot Act to protect the privacy and liberty of ordinary Americans. A bipartisan majority of the Senate already agrees that the conference report that the House and the White House are pushing does not protect our most fundamental constitutional rights.

“We invite Chairman Sensenbrenner and other Members of Congress to begin the new year with a renewed focus on American’s privacy, especially in the wake of revelations that the administration has bypassed the law to engage in warrantless wiretapping of Americans without any independent oversight by the FISA court. Congress’s New Year’s Resolution must be to build safeguards into the Patriot Act that help preserve the promises of our Constitution. We welcome the opportunity for Congress to immediately address the civil liberties issues that have been raised by the Bush Administration’s selective use and violation of the very powers expanded by the Patriot Act.

“People of good faith can resolve these issues to ensure that America remains both safe and free. We urge lawmakers to pay close attention to the Patriot Act extension in January to ensure that any safeguards added to the bill are not merely window dressing. A longer extension might have permitted more time for lawmakers to continue discussing reforms to the Patriot Act but the short-deadline may help focus this discussion on the need for real reforms to protect the privacy and freedoms of innocent Americans.”

For more on the ACLU’s concerns with the Patriot Act, go to:

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