U.S. Army General Joins the ACLU in Opposing Provisions of the Patriot Act; Calls Current Law a Subversion of Americans' Basic Rights

May 29, 2004 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – U.S. Army Brig. Gen. (ret.) Evelyn “Pat” Foote today joined with the American Civil Liberties Union and civil libertarians across the political spectrum in opposing current draconian measures contained within the Patriot Act.

Brig. Gen. Foote also called on members of Congress to support the SAFE Act, a measure that will bolster civil liberties protections while enhancing law enforcement’s effectiveness.

“Even in our darkest hours we can deal with enemies and safeguard our shores without subverting the basic rights of Americans,” said Foote, a Vietnam War veteran.

Brig. Gen. Foote served on the American Battle Monuments Commission from 1994-2001 and will be participating with President Bush in the commemoration of the World War II Memorial in Washington this Memorial Day weekend.

“Military veterans, reservists and active duty service members understand the importance of protecting America while fighting for our freedom,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “The ACLU honors our country’s sacrifices and commitment this Memorial Day by fighting for the SAFE Act, which protect the civil liberties that all Americans cherish.”

Supported by conservatives and liberals alike, the Security and Freedom Ensured, or SAFE Act would simply narrow several of the Patriot Act’s most contentious provisions, requiring greater judicial review and more checks against abuse. Contrary to what President Bush has said in recent speeches and campaign advertisements, nothing in the act would eliminate the secret search and surveillance powers authorized or expanded in the Patriot Act.

A wide range of organizations are concerned about the Patriot Act’s potential for abuse, including the Free Congress Foundation, the American Library Association, the American Conservative Union, Amnesty International, Gun Owners of America, and many religious organizations.

Republican Senators Larry Craig and Michael Crapo, both from Idaho, and John Sununu from New Hampshire are among the 19 co-sponsors of the SAFE Act in the Senate. Other supporters of the legislation include Republican Senators Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska as well as Democratic Senators Richard Durbin of Illinois, Jon Corzine of New Jersey and Russell Feingold of Wisconsin.

The House version of the SAFE Act is being championed by 62 Members of Congress, including Representative C.L. “Butch” Otter, a pro-gun, pro “family values” Idahoan.

Last week, Orrin Hatch, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, pledged that he would hold hearings about the SAFE Act, saying that his colleagues believe “it is something that should be done.”

Brig. Gen. Foote served 30 years on active duty as principally a military police officer following her service in the U.S. Army’s Women’s Army Corps. She was recalled to active duty in 1996 for one year by Secretary of the Army Togo West to serve as Vice-Chair of the Army’s Senior Review Panel on Sexual Harassment.

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