Joint Letter to House and Senate Judiciary Committees re: PATRIOT Act Review

April 12, 2005
Joint Letter to House and Senate Judiciary Committees
Patriot Act Review

 

 

PDF version available here.

 

April 12, 2005

Dear Members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees:

While we applaud Congress’ promise to hold oversight hearings concerning the USA Patriot Act, we are concerned that Congress will focus too narrowly on that Act and ignore the broader civil rights, human rights and civil liberties issues that are of concern to our organizations and all Americans. Congress must recognize that widespread opposition to the USA Patriot Act reflects a more general discomfort over the government’s actions. It should note that the “anti-Patriot Act” resolutions passed by more than 360 communities and four states in fact deal with a wide array of issues outside the scope of the USA Patriot Act.

We urge the Congress to examine the many rights and liberties issues that have arisen since 9/ll, including the following:

  • Mass secret arrests of Arabs and Muslims followed by detention for extended periods without charges, denials of access to counsel, secret hearings and, in some cases, abuse by prison guards;
  • Abuse of the material witness authority to detain citizens and others without charges;
  • Discriminatory enforcement of the immigration laws, leading to arbitrary detentions and deportations;
  • Detentions of Americans incommunicado as “enemy combatants” without access to lawyers or the courts;
  • Expanded use of secret wiretaps and secret searches of Americans’ homes and offices;
  • Massive growth in surveillance technologies and authority (including the authority under the USA Patriot Act to seize library and medical records and all commercial databases) with inadequate legal protections against abuse;
  • Spying on lawful political and religious activity; and
  • Eavesdropping on attorney-client communications without judicial approval or oversight.

    Taken together, these issues reflect a steady assault on fundamental rights and liberties that has served only to make us less free, and not more secure. With few exceptions, Congress has failed to address these issues. To the contrary, it is continuing to consider legislation, such as the REAL ID Act, that targets immigrants and asylum seekers unfairly without enhancing security. For Congress now to focus only on the concerns raised by the USA Patriot Act would be inappropriate.

    Signed Organizations:

    American Civil Liberties Union
    American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado
    American Immigration Lawyers Association
    American Muslim Voice
    American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
    Amnesty International USA
    Asian Law Caucus
    Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California
    Bill of Rights Defense Committee
    Bill of Rights Supporters of Fort Collins (Colorado)
    Center for Democracy and Technology
    Center for National Security Studies
    Concord Civil Liberties Committee (Concord, Massachusetts)
    East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, Oakland, CA
    First Amendment Foundation
    Japanese American Citizens League
    Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
    National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium
    National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
    National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development
    National Committee Against Repressive Legislation
    National Council of La Raza
    National Federation of Filipino American Associations
    National Immigrant Solidarity Network
    National Immigration Forum
    National Immigration Law Center
    National Lawyers Guild
    National Legal Sanctuary for Community Advancement
    National Organization for Women
    New Hampshire Faithful Democracy
    New Hampshire Unitarian Universalist Social Responsibility Department
    Open Society Policy Center
    Organization of Chinese Americans
    People For the American
    Potters for Peace
    South Asian American
    Tennessee Immigrant
    The Arab Community
    The Interfaith Alliance
    The Multiracial Activist
    The New York Immigration
    The Rutherford Institute
    Unitarian Universalist
    Worldview, Ltd.

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