Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Roll Back the Patriot Act

My friends at Downsize DC are working on a campaign to tell Congress to roll back some of the constitutionally dubious provisions of the Patriot Act. Sen. Russ Feingold has submitted a bill called the Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools In Counterterrorism Efforts (JUSTICE) Act that would repeal the worst provisions of both the Patriot Act and the FISA reauthorization bill from last year. Feingold explains what his bill would do:

The JUSTICE Act reforms include more effective checks on government searches of Americans’ personal records, the “sneak and peek” search provision of the PATRIOT Act, “John Doe” roving wiretaps and other overbroad authorities. The bill will also reform the FISA Amendments Act, passed last year, by repealing the retroactive immunity provision, preventing “bulk collection” of the contents of Americans’ international communications, and prohibiting “reverse targeting” of innocent Americans. And the bill enables better oversight of the use of National Security Letters (NSLs) after the Department of Justice Inspector General issued reports detailing the misuse and abuse of the NSLs. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, September 23rd, on reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act.

“Every single member of Congress wants to give our law enforcement and intelligence officials the tools they need to keep Americans safe,” said Feingold. “But with the PATRIOT Act up for reauthorization, we should take this opportunity to fix the flaws in our surveillance laws once and for all. The JUSTICE Act permits the government to conduct necessary surveillance, but within a framework of accountability and oversight. It ensures both that our government has the tools to keep us safe, and that the privacy and civil liberties of innocent Americans will be protected. When he was in the Senate, President Obama was a strong ally on these issues, and I look forward to working with his administration to find common ground on commonsense reforms.”

By clicking on the Downsize DC link above, you can send letters to your representatives to support that bill and urge them to place clear constitutional safeguards on the Patriot Act tools.