Albany, NY City Council Resolution


Council Members Sano, Calsolaro and Conti offered the following:

RESOLUTION NUMBER 63.52.03R

RESOLUTION CALLING UPON THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS TO REPEAL THE USA PATRIOT ACT BECAUSE OF SERIOUS CONCERNS REGARDING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S INCREASED POWERS OF SURVEILLANCE UPON ITS CITIZENS AND THE EFFECTS OF THIS EXPANDED POWER UPON FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES.
 
WHEREAS, on October 26, 2001, President Bush signed into law the USA Patriot Act (acronym for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism", hereinafter "Patriot Act"); passed quickly in the wake of the horrific September 11th terrorist attacks, the 342 page Patriot Act was conceived hastily in a climate of mourning, fear and resolve, allowing insufficient time for debate or deliberation regarding the significant changes the Act sought to achieve; and

WHEREAS, the enactment of the Patriot Act has since given new, far-reaching powers to both domestic law enforcement and international intelligence agencies while simultaneously hampering the oversight ability of the courts to ensure that these powers will not be abused; and

WHEREAS, the Patriot Act makes changes to over 15 different statutes, and a number of legal scholars and organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, agree that many of these statutory changes have the potential to compromise our civil liberties; voices in opposition to the Patriot Act include a number of municipalities nationwide have found the Patriot Act to be a potential threat to the civil rights of the residents of their communities; and 

WHEREAS, among other things, the Act creates a new crime of "domestic terrorism," which the Act defines so broadly that it could possibly be applied to a number of legitimate acts of civil disobedience; and

WHEREAS, by amending a number of laws which were designed to be protective of privacy, the Patriot Act has greatly expanded the government's authority and ability to conduct surveillance to intrude into private lives and obtain personal information about individuals living in the United States, including United States citizens; and 

WHEREAS, a prime example is the amendment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ("FISA"); by amending FISA, the Patriot Act effectively increases the government's access to an individual's private information by enabling the FBI to acquire records from bookstores and libraries of materials that an individual suspected of terrorism has purchased or read, including records of one's activities on a library computer; and 

WHEREAS, further, the Patriot Act creates a gag order to prevent anyone from disclosing that they have been ordered to produce such documents, effectively denying booksellers and library personnel the free speech right to inform anyone, including an attorney, that the FBI has requested someone's reading list; and

WHEREAS, the Act significantly changes how search warrants are executed and allows for surveillance of legal, religious, labor and political organizations, as well as surveillance of private citizens, private business records and other materials without any evidence of wrongdoing or proof of probable cause, in violation of the Fourth Amendment; and

WHEREAS, the Patriot Act gives the FBI and CIA greater rights to wiretap phones, monitor e-mail and internet use, survey medical, financial and student records, and break into homes and offices without prior notification; and

WHEREAS, it is clear that many sections of the Patriot Act have not been thoroughly and carefully examined by Congress; this concern is amplified by the fact that several key procedural processes applicable to other proposed laws, including the normal committee and hearing processes, were suspended for the Patriot Act; and    

WHEREAS, the City of Albany demonstrates a continuous commitment to protecting the free exercise and enjoyment of the rights and privileges secured by the Constitution and the laws of the United States and the State and the City of Albany; now, as the Patriot Act threatens to abridge these rights and liberties, efforts should be undertaken to restore these rights by having the Patriot Act repealed; and

WHEREAS, law enforcement must be equipped with tools to locate terrorists and prevent future tragedies, however, we must ensure that our outrage is not used to justify legislation that trespasses on our rights under the Constitution; 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Council of the City of Albany, New York calls upon the United States Congress to repeal the USA Patriot Act because of serious concerns regarding the federal government's increased powers of surveillance upon its citizens and the effects of this expanded power upon fundamental rights and liberties.

Resolution Number 63.52.03R was Co-Sponsored by Council Member Curry-Cobb.

Passed by the following vote of all the Council Members elected voting in favor thereof:

Affirmative - Brown, Calsolaro, Casey, Conti, Curry-Cobb, Foskey, Morris, O'Brien, Sano, and Torncello

Negative - Fox, Herring, and Igoe

Affirmative  10       Negative    3       Abstain   0 

Signed by the Mayor May 20, 2003.

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