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Civil Lib Groups Endorse H.R. 3845, American Lib Assoc. Issues Action Alert

In activism, information policy, intellectual freedom on October 29, 2009 at 11:18 am

A coalition of 20 civil liberties organizations, including the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), released a letter today endorsing the USA Patriot Amendments Act (H.R. 3845) and pointing out the failures of the Senate’s PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act (S. 1692). As their names suggest, the Amendments Act proposes reforms to the expiring sections of the USAPA, while the Extension Act pretty much extends the USAPA provisions with very few promising changes. The next review will be in 2013.

CDT compiled this very helpful chart that compares the two bills to the current law. Check out the difference on gag orders (p. 2 and 4) and on Section 215 orders that would capture personal info from a library or bookseller (p. 3). Also note that H.R. 3845 places limits on roving wiretaps, and proposes the “lone wolf” provision be allowed to expire.

Today, the American Library Association (ALA) endorsed the ACLU’s call to action and expressed its support for the House reform bills as well. The ALA alert includes background info and talking points.

H.R. 3845 and 3846 will be “marked up” next Wednesday, Nov. 4. That means now’s the time to contact your reps. Yes, especially if you want to push this debate even further around issues of immigrant rights and profiling. Remember it was during the Senate mark-up period earlier this month that Sens. Feinstein and Leahy abandoned their commitment to curb dragnets against individuals, communities and human rights orgs. Some California Reps., like Dem. Jane Harman, are already supporting this legislation. Can’t hurt to remind her.

What else can you do? Write letters to the editor. Get FISA Right posted some templates to get you started.

View full Center for Democracy & Technology post.

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  1. Recently Obama Signed a One Year Extension To The Patriot Act.

    It does not take much knowledge of history to understand how a corrupt U.S. Government could use National Security Letters under the Patriot Act—As A Political or Economic Weapon.
    Currently in the name of fighting terrorism, U.S. Government can use National Security Letters to search a Citizen’s private information and records without having to provide specific facts—the person’s information sought pertains to a foreign power or agent of a foreign power. Government can impose National Security Letters without probable cause on your employer, your business client(s) credit card providers, even your relationships. After you receive a National Security Letter, under current law you can’t tell anyone. National Security Letters if used by a tyrannical U.S. Government, could be very threatening to Americans when you consider methods used by other governments. For example in Nazi Germany, the Gestapo routinely targeted and damaged business people and companies that refused to support the Nazi Government by—interrogating their customers—about them. Not surprisingly targeted business people and companies found it difficult to make a living after their frightened customers and clients distanced themselves after Gestapo interrogation. Some German corporations with ties to the Reich government used the Gestapo to scare off their business rivals’ associates and customers—to take their business. A corrupt U.S. Government could as easily use National Security Letters in the same manner and to intimidate Americans exercising First Amendment Rights.

    Congress needs to pass legislation that prevents Government using National Security Letters to investigate Americans without first demonstrating a clear standard of probable cause.

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