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Dial Back the Patriot Act
New opportunity through the Justice Act

Posted by the Coffee Coaster with Downsize DC permission

Quote of the Day: “The JUSTICE Act will allow intelligence agents to monitor terrorism suspects while putting checks in place to ensure that law-abiding Americans’ privacy and civil liberties are protected.” — Sen. Daniel Akaka

Subject: Rolling Back the Patriot Act

Following 9/11, Congress passed the gargantuan USA PATRIOT Act, without reading it. The PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act were written to protect Americans from terrorism, but they've left people unprotected from their own government.

The Patriot Act authorized "sneak and peek" warrants that allow the government to search your home without your knowledge. In 2008, this power was used just three times in terrorism investigations and 760 times in regular criminal investigations.

It also authorized National Security Letters (NSLs). NSLs allow federal agents to seize your personal records without a warrant, even when there's no suspicion of wrongdoing. The FBI can also prohibit you from telling anyone that you've been searched because of an NSL. The FBI was found to have abused this power thousands of times.

Under the FISA Amendments Act, the government can engage in wiretapping without a warrant.

The good news is that some parts of the PATRIOT Act will expire at the end of the year unless Congress renews them. This provides an opportunity to roll back many dangerous provisions. Toward this end Senator Russ Feingold introduced the JUSTICE Act (S. 1686) on September 17, Constitution Day. JUSTICE stands for the Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools In Counterterrorism Efforts. This bill would . . .

  • narrow the scope of "sneak and peek" warrants so they can't be used in common criminal cases
  • ensure judicial review of NSLs and require that they only be used in terrorism or espionage investigations prevent roving wiretaps of unnamed suspects that allow the government to monitor the conversations of innocent people
  • revoke the retroactive immunity provision of the FISA Amendments Act that has shielded the telecom companies that collaborated with the government in illegal surveillance
  • provide additional privacy protections outlined here

In short, the JUSTICE Act would give government agents powerful tools to spy on suspected terrorists, while preventing them from spying on YOU.

We would prefer to repeal the PATRIOT Act entirely, but until that can happen the provisions of the JUSTICE Act would move things in the right direction. Please take action to pass the JUSTICE Act.

Go to our new campaign "Roll Back the Patriot Act" and send your letter to Congress. If your Senator is on the Judiciary Committee, please also call him or her on the phone and urge him or her to support the JUSTICE Act. If your Senator is not on the Committee please call the Committee Directly to urge them to vote the JUSTICE Act out of committee. You can see a list of the Committee members here.

The phone number for the Senate Judiciary Committee is 202-224-7703.

Jim Babka
President, Inc.


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