Office of Government Relations issues urgent PATRIOT Act Action Alert

URGENT ALERT:

USA PATRIOT ACT REFORMS — JUDICIARY COMMITTEE MARKUP SEPTEMBER 30TH

ADVOCATES ASKED TO CONTACT SENATORS ON JUDICIARY COMMITTEE ASAP

It is critical that library supporters from states with senators on the Judiciary Committee call them as soon as possible urging reforms to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and laws covering national security letters.  The Senate switchboard number is:  (202) 224-3121

There are two USA PATRIOT Act reform bills pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee at this time.   The Committee has scheduled a work session or “markup” of S. 1696, the USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act originally introduced on September 17th by Judiciary Chairman Leahy and Sens. Cardin and Kaufman.  This bill respects constitutional rights by increasing judicial review of the use of surveillance authorities that sweep in U.S. citizens.  The bill also expands public reporting to ensure that Americans can monitor the use of these authorities.

[ Leahy statement:  http://leahy.senate.gov/press/200909/092209b.html ]

THE MESSAGE:

  • Congress should pass the USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act of 2009, S. 1692, with key amendments to protect civil liberties based upon S. 1686, the Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools in Counterterrorism Efforts (JUSTICE) Act, and,
  • Congress should also consider reforms of national security letters (NSLs) now as legislation on reform and reauthorization of Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act moves forward.

TALKING POINTS:

  • The library community thanks Senator Leahy and the bills’s other sponsors, Senators Cardin (MD-D) , Kaufman (DE-D) and Sanders (VT-I) for introducing legislation that  makes many needed reforms to Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act;
  • However, library advocates urge the Judiciary Committee to consider amendments to S. 1692, based upon provisions in S. 1686, the Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools in Counterterrorism Efforts (JUSTICE) Act;
  • Intensify oversight of the Section 215 and National Security Letters provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act and other laws that limit the privacy rights of library users, library employees and the general public, including annual reports by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General.
  • Guarantee a recipient the right to consult an attorney, the right to challenge any gag order and due process at the time a Section 215 order or an NSL is served on the recipient;
  • Require the FBI to provide sufficient facts to demonstrate that a gag order is necessary to protect national security;  if authorized, the gag order should automatically expire at the end of six months unless the FBI shows good cause to extend the gag order.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee
Patrick J. Leahy, Chairman, D-Vermont
Herb Kohl, D-Wisconsin
Jeff Sessions, Ranking Member, R-Alabama
Dianne Feinstein, D-California
Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah
Russell D. Feingold, D-Wisconsin
Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa
Charles E. Schumer, D-New York
Jon Kyl, R-Arizona
Richard J. Durbin, D-Illinois
Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina
Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Maryland
John Cornyn, R-Texas
Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island
Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma
Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota
Edward E. Kaufman, D-Delaware
Arlen Specter, D-Pennsylvania
Al Franken, D-Minnesota

[For additional background information go to ALA’s recent “District Dispatch” on USA PATRIOT Act reforms at: http://www.wo.ala.org/districtdispatch/?cat=10]

Full bill text for S. 1692 is at: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:S.1692.IS:

Full bill text for S. 1686 is at:  http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:s.01686:

About Jacob Roberts

Jacob Roberts is the communications specialist for the ALA Washington Office.

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