Pittsburgh City Council Rebuffs Bush Patriot Act Misinformation Tour; Pro-Civil Liberties Resolutions Now Cover 50 Million Americans

April 26, 2004 12:00 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

Contact: Media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON – Only a week after President Bush promoted the Patriot Act in Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh City Council today joined nearly 300 communities around the country in unanimously adopting a resolution urging Congress to bring the controversial legislation back in line with the Constitution. The American Civil Liberties Union welcomed the vote, which brings the total number of Americans living in communities that have passed such resolutions to 50 million people.

“President Bush’s speech in Pennsylvania was filled with misinformation about what the Patriot Act does and how it affects our freedoms,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “When people hear the truth about what rights are lost under the Act, they realize that it went too far, too fast. Fifty million Americans now live in communities that say that we can and must make changes to the Act to ensure that both security and liberty are upheld.”

Last week, President Bush made trips to Pennsylvania and New York, to tout the Patriot Act’s effectiveness and argue that parts of the law due to expire in 2005 should instead be made permanent.. In reality, less than 10 percent of the Patriot Act expires; most of the law is permanent and those portions that do sunset will not do so until December 31, 2005. During his stop in Pennsylvania, Bush continued the Administration’s campaign of misinformation about the law by claiming that before the Patriot Act, roving wiretaps and delayed notification – sneak and peek – search warrants were not available in intelligence investigations, when if fact both powers were.

The resolution movement has its roots in the passage of the Patriot Act, the sweeping anti-terrorism legislation steamrolled through Congress in October of 2001, and other similar post-9/11 security measures. Such measures share several anti-civil liberties characteristics, including provisions that erode checks and balances on federal law enforcement and surveillance powers and threaten the American political system’s separation of powers.

To date, 298 governing bodies — including the state legislatures of Hawaii, Alaska, Vermont and Maine — encompassing over 50 million people in 40 states, have passed similar resolutions, some of which like the Pittsburgh resolution contain strong legal language directing local law enforcement to refrain from, for instance, engaging in racial profiling or enforcing federal immigration laws. Participating communities reflect an array of size and political inclination: from Ames, Iowa to New York City, from Elko, Nevada to Detroit, Michigan, from North Pole, Alaska to Washington, DC and from Dallas, Texas to Atlanta, Georgia.

“Pittsburgh proudly joins millions of Americans in demanding we both safe and free,” said Barb Feige, Director of the ACLU’s Pittsburgh Chapter. “Americans of all stripes are courageous enough to say that the Patriot Act needs to brought back in line with the Constitution. Even in times of great challenge, patriotism demands that we adhere to our core principles of freedom.”

For more on the local resolutions campaign, go to:

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

Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.

Learn More About the Issues in This Press Release