Lincoln City, Nebraska Becomes 350th Community to Pass Resolution Calling for Patriot Act Reforms

Affiliate: ACLU of Nebraska
September 14, 2004 12:00 am

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Testimony of Former Republican Congressman Bob Barr Was Key

LINCOLN, NE – After five hours of testimony and debate last night, the city council here passed a resolution calling for reform of the Patriot Act, the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska announced today. The ACLU credited the work of dozens of people who committed time and energy to the single goal of getting the “Defense of Liberty” resolution passed, as well as the testimony of former Republican Congressman Bob Barr.

“When the ACLU brought people together for the first discussions on this project, we did not envision that it would be such a wide-ranging effort,” said ACLU of Nebraska Executive Director Tim Butz. “The coalition that emerged from those first meetings spent over a year talking to civic groups, neighborhood associations, churches and classes in an effort to educate on the Patriot Act.”

Butz noted that the work of the Lincoln Bill of Rights Defense Coalition was based on a model of community involvement that led to 60 public presentations on the Patriot Act and over 2,500 signatures gathered on petitions delivered to the city council at the start of their debate.

The measure was met with opposition by the U.S. Attorney for Nebraska, who testified against it and brought three FBI agents to the council meeting to provide additional supportive testimony.

The ACLU invited Bob Barr, a former United States Attorney and Republican member of Congress, to present information to the council. Barr, who served on the House Judiciary Committee and originally voted for the Act, has been critical of some of its provisions and how they have been implemented. Last night was the first time that he ever presented testimony regarding a city council resolution. He discussed the problems with the Act and answered questions for close to an hour, longer than any other witness. Over 30 Lincoln residents signed up to testify in support of the resolution, while most of the opposition came from government officials.

The council approved the resolution on a vote of 4-3, making Lincoln the first Nebraska city and the 350th nationally to pass a resolution calling for Patriot Act reform.

For a list of the other communities that have passed resolutions, go to /node/22776

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