Feingold Leads The Fight For Our Rights Against The Patriot Act
On October 1ST, the Senate Judiciary Committee began its debate on a version of a bill to extend the Patriot Act. It was a very troubling start falling far short of including much needed civil liberties and rights of privacy protections. The water-down version of the bill proposed by Senators Feinstein & Leahy is not reversing most of the unacceptable provisions contain in the original Patriot Act.
However, a few Senators are putting their best efforts to safeguard American citizens’ rights. Senators Feingold, Durbin, Tester, Udall, Bingaman, Sanders, Akaka and Wyden have introduced a bill to fix problems with surveillance laws that threaten the rights and liberties of innocent American citizens. The Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools In Counter-terrorism Effort (JUSTICE) Act would reform the USA Patriot Act and the FISA act to protect Americans’ constitutional rights.
The JUSTICE Act includes more effective checks on government searches of Americans’ personal records. The “sneak & peek” provision, the “John Doe” roving wiretaps and other broad authorities in effect in the current Patriot Act would be dropped in the JUSTICE Act. The bill would also reform the FISA amendment, passed last year by Congress, by repealing the retroactive immunity provision (given to companies such as AT&T -see photo), preventing bulk collection of the content of Americans international communication, and prohibiting reverse targeting of innocent Americans.
“With the Patriot Act up for re-authorization, 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 that the privacy and civil liberties of innocent Americans will be protected,” said Senator Fiengold.
“When tools, such as the Patriot Act, override Americans’ fundamental rights and liberties, we run the risk of never getting them back,” said Senator Durbin.
“In recent years, I believe our government has failed to protect the constitutional right to privacy for American citizens,” said Senator Udall.
The ACLU has endorsed the JUSTICE Act as a good alternative bill to reform the Patriot Act.
“The bill, as it stands now, falls far short of including civil liberties protection shown to be necessary by the results of oversight and audits of the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act extension bill is miles away from meeting constitutional muster,” said Michael Macleod-Ball from the ACLU.
If you think it is time to reform the Patriot Act to restore our constitutional civil liberties and right to privacy click here to contact your Senator and Congressman.