Joint Letter to Senate Select Committee on Intelligence re: PATRIOT Act Oversight

April 18, 2005
Joint Letter to Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
PATRIOT Act Oversight

PDF version available here.

April 18, 2005

Dear Members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:

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:

    NATIONAL GROUPS:

    American Civil Liberties Union
    American Friends Service Committee – Washington Office
    American Immigration Lawyers Association
    American Muslim Voice
    American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
    Amnesty International USA
    Bill of Rights Defense Committee
    Center for American Progress
    Center for Democracy and Technology
    Center for National Security Studies
    Constitutional Rights Coalition
    Council of Ethics-Based Organizations associated with the Department of Public Information, United Nations
    First Amendment Foundation
    Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quaker)
    Human Rights First
    Human Rights Watch
    Japanese American Citizens League
    Korean American Coalition
    Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
    Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
    Mennonite Central Committee U.S., Washington Office
    Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund
    National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression
    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 Korean American Service & Education
    National Lawyers Guild
    National Legal Sanctuary for Community Advancement
    National Organization for Women
    Open Society Policy Center
    Organization of Chinese Americans
    People For the American Way
    Progressive Librarians Guild
    Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
    South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow
    The Interfaith Alliance
    The Multiracial Activist
    The Rutherford Institute
    Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

    LOCAL GROUPS:

    Albany Bill of Rights Restoration Committee (Albany, NY)
    American Civil Liberties Union of (CO)
    Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco, CA)
    Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
    Atlanta Bill of Rights Defense Campaign (Atlanta, GA)
    Bangor Area Bill of Rights Defense Committee (Bangor, ME)
    Bloomington Bill of Rights Defense Committee (Bloomington, IN)
    Carolina Peace Resource Center (Columbia, SC)
    Chico Bill of Rights Defense Committee (Chico, CA)
    Citizens for an Informed Community (Bridgewater, MA)
    Citizens for Peace and Justice (Jackson County, OR)
    Clatsop County Bill of Rights Defense Committee (Clatsop County, OR)
    Coaltion for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
    Coaltion to Prevent the Erosion of Human Rights (Las Vegas, Nevada)
    Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights (Chicago, IL)
    Concord Civil Liberties Committee (Concord, MA)
    Constitutional Justice Socienty, Inc. (MO)
    DuPage Against War Now (DuPage County, IL)
    East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (Oakland, CA)
    Fort Collins Bill of Rights Supporters of Fort Collins (CO)
    Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty (Charlottesville, VA)
    Green Party of Clallam County (Clallam County, WA)
    Idaho Green Party (Boise, Idaho)
    Idaho Patriots (Boise, ID)
    Jersey City Peace Movement (Jersey City, NJ)
    Lake County Peace Action (Lake County, CA)
    Lane County Bill of Rights Defense Committee (Lane County, Oregon)
    Las Vegas Peace & Justice Center (Las Vegas, NV)
    Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights (San Francisco, CA)
    Missouri Voters Action Team (MO)
    Montana Women for Peace (Livingston, MT)
    New Hampshire Faithful Democracy (Peterborough, and Concord, NH)
    New Hampshire Faithful Democracy (Peterborough, NH)
    New Hampshire Unitarian Universalist Social Responsibility Department (Concord, and Littleton, NH)
    New Hampshire Unitarian Universalist Social Responsibility Department (Peterborough, NH)
    Nicaragua Center for Community Action (Berkeley, CA)
    NYC Bill of Rights Defense Campaign (New York City, NY)
    Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (Huntington, WV)
    Organization of Chinese Americans-South Florida Chapter (Miami, FL)
    PA for Democracy (PA)
    Peace Action WI (Milwaukee, WI )
    Philly for Change (Philadelphia, PA)
    Pittsburgh Bill of Rights Defense Campaign (Pittsburgh, PA)
    Port Orford Bill of Rights Defense Committee (Port Orford, OR)
    Potters for Peace (Berkeley, CA)
    PRIME-Ecumenical Commitment to Refugees (Clifton Heights, PA)
    Prince George Bill of Rights Defense Coalition (Prince George, MD)
    Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center (Boulder, CO)
    SAGE (Amherst, MA)
    South Asian Network
    Statemanship National Activisim Project (MO)
    Statesmanship Party, Inc. (MO)
    SW Colorado Peace & Justice Coalition (Durango, CO)
    Tacoma Bill of Rights Defense Committee (Tacoma, WA)
    Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (Nashville, TN)
    The Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (Dearborn, MI)
    The Bozeman Peace Seekers (Bozeman, Montana)
    The New York Immigration Coalition (New York, NY)
    The Reform Patry of Missouri, Inc. (MO)
    Thomas Merton Center (Pittsburgh, PA )
    Watertown (MA) Citizens for Environmental Safety (Watertown, MA)
    Westchester Bill of Rights Defense Campaign (Westchester, NY)
    Women For: Orange County (Orange County, CA)
    Womens International League for Peace and Freedom (Cape Cod, MA)
    Worldview, Ltd. (Peterborough, NH)

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