ACLU Says House 9/11 Commission Bill a "Trojan Horse," Patriot Expansion, Attacks on Immigrants Guided by Election Year Politics

September 29, 2004 12:00 am


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ACLU Says House 9/11 Commission Bill a “Trojan Horse,” Patriot Expansion, Attacks on Immigrants Guided by Election Year Politics

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Contact: Media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON – As key House Committees meet today to consider legislation to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, the American Civil Liberties Union called on lawmakers to reject any further expansions of law enforcement powers not called for by the commission. The ACLU noted the main House legislation contains some provisions of the draft Patriot Act 2 that was leaked on Capitol Hill last year, and called it a serious attack on the ability of immigrants to have their day in court.

“The House leadership bill, in its current form, is a Trojan horse,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “The bi-partisan 9/11 Commission did not call for an assault on immigrants or an expansion of the Patriot Act; they said that the Patriot Act needs thorough review. By including these unwarranted provisions in this legislation, the Republican leadership is playing election year politics with intelligence reform.”

The Republican House leadership unveiled their bill, the “9/11 Commission Implementation Act,” late Friday. It contains several Patriot Act 2 provisions, and other expansions on law enforcement powers not called for by the 9/11 commission. Noting that the commission did not include any recommendation of Patriot Act expansion, or that due process and judicial review in the immigration system be curtailed, the ACLU called the House bill a “virtual wish list for law enforcement that would undermine liberty.”

The ACLU also noted that in the Senate, the leading legislation to implement the commission’s findings is the Collins-Lieberman “National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004” (S. 2845), which closely mirrors the commission’s findings, and contains none of the provisions of Patriot Act 2. That bill is currently being debated on the Senate floor.

The House Judiciary, Intelligence, Armed Services, Government Reform and Financial Services Committees are considering the bill today. Several sections mirror Patriot Act 2 provisions, for example: the “lone wolf” provision, which would remove the requirement that the non-citizen targets of secret intelligence surveillance and searches be somehow connected to a foreign power and the broadening of the “material support” offense for terrorism.

Several sections would also deny immigrants basic judicial review over unfair, arbitrary or otherwise abusive deportations. The House bill, if enacted, would permit the deportation of individuals to countries lacking a functioning government – an issue pending before the Supreme Court– and would make it more difficult for individuals to claim asylum. The ACLU noted that none of these anti-immigrant policies were recommended by the 9/11 Commission, and many have long been priorities for the hard-line anti-immigration lobby.

Finally, the House bill contains a provision that may be an attempt to create a de facto National ID card.

“Congress is just starting to review the vast expansion of controversial law enforcement powers granted three years ago,” said Timothy Edgar, and ACLU Legislative Counsel. “Now is not the time to further expand the Patriot Act or attack immigrants under the guise of intelligence reform.”

For more on the ACLU’s concerns with Congress’s implementation of the 9/11 Commission’s findings, go to:
/intelligencereform

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