On Sixth Month Anniversary of USA PATRIOT Enactment, ACLU Joins With Groups Urging Preservation of Free Speech

April 25, 2002 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today joined with other concerned groups in marking the six-month anniversary of the USA Patriot Act’s enactment and urged law and policy makers to resist further measures that would shrink or suppress free speech and other crucial liberties in America.

“Since the enactment of the USA Patriot Act last October, federal and state authorities have engaged in an alarming suppression of free speech,” said Marvin Johnson, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “We continue in our conviction that we can all be both safe and free – that our American liberties need not be sacrificed for unproven security measures.”

The ACLU today joined with lawmakers and its coalition partners in the Free Expression Network — including People for the American Way, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Rep. Patsy Mink (D-HI) — at a press conference on Capitol Hill to mark the anniversary.

The ACLU cited the monitoring of confidential attorney-client conversations, the slackening of judicial review over law enforcement surveillance and wiretapping and the loose redefinition of terrorism in the USA PATRIOT Act that could be used to ensnare lawful protesters and political dissenters as inappropriate infringements on the First Amendment that do nothing to make us any safer.

“Congress and the President need to better apply a key litmus test to determine whether a security measure is appropriate,” Johnson said. “They need to ask themselves a) will it work? and b) what does the Constitution say? Only then will we be able to maintain our safety without degrading our American liberties.”

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