January 27, 2011
Remember the PATRIOT Act?
Passed immediately after 9/11 by a nearly unanimous vote in the Senate, the PATRIOT Act was the most visible of many blows that our privacy and civil liberties have suffered over the past decade. Police and intelligence agencies gained broad powers to spy, pry, and access private information about innocent people without a warrant or any checks and balances.
Multiple government and independent reports have documented widespread abuse of these powers, as well as profiling according to race, religion, national origin, and political viewpoint. These problems have particularly affected Muslim Americans, Arabs and South Asians of other faiths, and activists working for peace or environmental justice. But because our Constitution belongs to all of us, all Americans have been affected.
Several provisions of the PATRIOT Act are up for renewal in February.
Today, concerned Americans from all over the country are visiting Congress to demand civil liberties protections. But if you can't join us in Washington, you can still join the chorus of voices calling for change.
Take a moment to review our talking points. Then, call your senators and your representative and ask them to stand up for our rights:
- Vote NO on Reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act until it is amended to add strong protections for civil liberties.
- Rein in the FBI and COINTELPRO 2.0: Congress must conduct more careful oversight and prevent the FBI from monitoring innocent Americans without any evidence—or even suspicion—of a crime; or profiling based on race, ethnicity, religion or political belief.
- Cut spending: When addressing the bloated federal budget, start with wasteful programs justified in the name of national security that offend both fiscal conservatism and constitutional rights.
I’ll be in Washington today, organizing other concerned Americans who've traveled to our nation's capital to protect our constitutional rights.