Conservative Voices Against the USA PATRIOT Act

Document Date: April 15, 2004

Todd Lakey, Canyon County Republican Chairman (“”Idaho GOP for limits on the Patriot Act,”” The Spokesman-Review, 6/15/2004)

“”We want to support our preside, and we want to fight terrorism throughout the world, but we also want to be careful of our personal liberties.””

State Rep. Janet Miller (R-Boise) (“”Idaho GOP for limits on the Patriot Act,”” The Spokesman-Review, 6/15/2004)

“”The Patriot Act was a very good idea. I think they just wrote it so hastily that they maybe went more in-depth than they should have done. We, of course, in Idaho really believe in personal freedom and not having the government meddle in our lives, so I think taking another look at it is a good idea.””

Idaho GOP platform plank (“”Idaho GOP for limits on the Patriot Act,”” The Spokesman-Review, 6/15/2004)

“”The Patriot Act is necessary to facilitate the cooperation between law enforcement agencies. We support appropriate amendments to limit the incursion upon personal freedoms, rights, and liberties of American citizens.””

Harry Schneider, Legislative Chairman, Pennsylvania Sportsman’s Association. (“Administration policies prompt some gun owners to recoil,” Associated Press, 4/14/04)

“Most gun owners are not very enthusiastic and they’re very apprehensive about aspects of the Patriot Act, specifically about search-and-seizure rules. They’re just not going to dig into their wallets or devote their time to help Bush.”

Kevin Starrett, Executive Director, Oregon Firearms Federation (“Gun Groups May Not Be Bush Campaign Weapon,” Los Angeles Times, 4/13/04)

“Had the Clinton administration proposed the Patriot Act, which is a real scary thing for gun owners, the Republican-controlled Congress would have been apoplectic.”

Bob Barr, former Republican member of Congress (“”Patriot Act divides Bush loyalists,”” Washington Times, 4/5/2004)

“”The Fourth Amendment is a nuisance to the administration, but the amendment protects citizens and legal immigrants from the government’s monitoring them whenever it wants, without good cause — and if that happens, it’s the end of personal liberty.””

“”I don’t care if there were no examples so far. We can’t say we’ll let government have these unconstitutional powers in the Patriot Act because they will never use them. Besides, who knows how many times the government has used them? They’re secret searches.””

Larry Pratt, Executive Director, Gun Owners of America (Coalition for Constitutional Liberties Weekly Update, Free Congress Foundations, 2/27/2004)

“”Anytime the government is in a conflict, they see it as an opportunity to aggrandize themselves and run roughshod over the Constitution””

“”More laws are being made making things illegal. All of us stand to be in violation of some law.””

“”Farmers [including some who were wielding guns] participated in civil disobedience at the site of the main water valve. [Under the PATRIOT Act,] The Klamath farmers would have been a terrorist organization.””

On the membership of Gun Owners of America:

“”They see the Bill of Rights and defense of freedom as seamless””

“”The government feels that we, the people, need to be transparent. It should be the other way around.””

Rep. Chris Chocola (R-IN-2) (“”Bush gets ‘high marks’,”” South Bend Tribune, 1/21/2004)

[Chocola held back an immediate endorsement of the president’s call for renewal of the Patriot Act when it expires next year]

“”That’s a debate we’ve got to have.””

Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA-11) (“”Feedback to the state of the union address,”” Contra Costa Times, 1/24/2004)

“”I think Congress will spend more time debating the Patriot Act, or any reauthorization of the Patriot Act. We passed it originally in a time of crisis. I have concerns about provisions in the Patriot Act, particularly when it comes to protecting the privacy of the average American citizen.””

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee (“”Inside Politics,”” Washington Times, 1/23/2004)

Mr. Sensenbrenner, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said “”over my dead body”” will the act be reauthorized without undergoing thorough re-examination in hearings held by the House.

Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House (“The Policies of War: Refocus the mission,” San Francisco Chronicle, 11/11/03)

“We must ensure that the legal tools provided are not abused, and indeed, that they do not undermine the very foundation our country was built upon.”

“I strongly believe the Patriot Act was not created to be used in crimes unrelated to terrorism.”

“Recent reports, including one from the General Accounting Office, however indicate that the Patriot Act has been employed in investigations unconnected to terrorism or national security.

In our battle against those that detest our free and prosperous society, we cannot sacrifice any of the pillars our nation stands upon, namely respect for the Constitution and the rule of law. Our enemies in the war against terrorism abuse the Islamic law known as the Sharia that they claim to value. It is perversely used as justification for their horrific and wanton acts of violence.

We must demonstrate to the world that America is the best example of what a solid Constitution with properly enforced laws can bring to those who desire freedom and safety. If we become hypocrites about our own legal system, how can we sell it abroad or question legal systems different than our own?

I strongly believe Congress must act now to rein in the Patriot Act, limit its use to national security concerns and prevent it from developing “mission creep” into areas outside of national security.

Similarly, if prosecutors lack the necessary legislation to combat other serious domestic crimes, crimes not connected to terrorism, then lawmakers should seek to give prosecutors separate legislation to provide them the tools they need, but again not at the expense of civil rights. But in no case should prosecutors of domestic crimes seek to use tools intended for national security purposes.

This war against terrorism requires Americans and American institutions to have the “courage to be safe,” this courage must include keeping to the American principles that have made this country great for more than 200 years.”

Rep. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R-ID) (“Otter to speak on Patriot Act dissent,” Idaho State Journal, 11/9/2003)

“You cannot give up freedom, you cannot give up liberty, and be safe. When your freedom is lost, it makes no difference who took it away from you. (The terrorists) have won. What did they want to do? Take away our freedom. They’ve won in some cases.”

Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee (“”Senators join forces to roll back parts of Patriot Act,”” Washington Times, 10/16/03)

[On the introduction of the Security and Freedom Ensured (SAFE) Act]

“”This has nothing to do with the current administration; it’s about putting into effect the right law.””

“”It’s time we adjusted this law to assure civil liberties are not being trampled.””

David Keene, Chairman of the American Conservative Union (“”Civil liberties advocates laud Sununu for stand on Patriot Act reform,”” Manchester Union Leader, 10/16/2003)

“”These are people who are now taking a look at it and saying much of this is a good law, but let’s make sure we didn’t go too far. While the government should have all the power it needs to protect us, it shouldn’t have all the power it’d like to have.””

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) (“Hatch alarms right over anti-terror act,” Salt Lake Tribune, 9/15/2003)

“To date it appears portions of the Patriot Act may have moved the scales out of balance”

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, board member, National Rifle Association and American Conservative Union (“Hatch alarms right over anti-terror act,” Salt Lake Tribune, 9/15/2003)

“I don’t know whether Hatch is slower to see this than other Republicans, but the Butch Otter vote was a statement to the administration that Congress is not going to stand there like potted plants and accept everything they send over. It’s been two years since 9-11, and for the administration to still answer the public’s questions about how these powers are being used with ‘Just trust us’ is insulting.”

Rep. Jim Leach, (R-IA) (“Latest Anti-Terrorism Proposals Not Likely to Move Through Congress Quickly,” Congressional Quarterly, 9/11/2003)

“There are very few acts of Congress that deserve more careful oversight than the Patriot Act.”

John W. Whitehead, President, Rutherford Institute (Memo on “”Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Terrorists: A Rutherford Institute Response to Attorney General John Ashcroft’s ‘Patriot Act Tour’ and Website,”” 8/27/03 available at:

“”Attorney General Ashcroft charges that passage of the Patriot Act radically changed ‘a culture of law enforcement inhibition’ in America. When the Act restricts or weakens constitutional and statutory protections for fundamental rights of privacy and personal autonomy, including a right characterized by the Supreme Court as being ‘as old as the Magna Carta,’ one can surely forgive a reasonable observer for wondering whether, in throwing off “”inhibitions”” on law enforcement for the sake of its pursuit of terrorists, America has carefully calibrated the ramifications of this authoritarian revolution for its continued commitment to the life and liberty of all its people.””

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee (“Specter blasts part of anti-terrorism act,” Associated Press, 8/2/2003)

[On section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act]:

“I don’t think that’s any of the government’s business. I don’t think what people read is subject to inquiry. What difference does that make? It has a chilling effect on fundamental freedom of activity.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) (“Murkowski Proposes Changes to USA PATRIOT Act to Protect Civil Liberties While Fighting Terrorism,” Press Release from the Office of Senator Lisa Murkowski, 8/01/2003)

“Given the tragic events of Sept. 11th there is no question that federal law enforcement agencies needed more tools and that Congress needed to update our nation’s anti-terrorism laws. But it is also clear that Congress has an obligation to make sure the law is working as intended. We must strike a careful and constitutional balance between protecting the individual rights of Americans and giving our law enforcement and intelligence officials the tools they need to prevent future terrorist attacks. To date it appears portions of the Patriot Act may have moved the scales out of balance.

My goal is simply to make sure that our laws are balanced. I want to make sure that law enforcement has all the tools they need to protect us, while also protecting our individual freedoms and liberties – the very same principles upon which the United States was founded and that make this nation so great today.”

Rep. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R-ID) (“House Lawmakers Limit Scope of Patriot Act Powers,” Fox News, 7/29/2003)

“I think [law enforcement officials] are trampling on our rights and they are doing it in the name of trying to protect us from domestic terrorism'”

Rep. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R-ID) (Congressional Record, Page H7289, 7/22/2003)

“Mr. Chairman, over 200 years ago when the formulation of this great republic was being put together, John Stuart Mill sat down and probably put the essence of this government in writing better than anyone could. ‘ A people,’ he said, ‘may prefer a free government, but if from indolence or carelessness, or cowardice, or want of public spirit, they are unequal to the exertions necessary for preserving it; if they will not fight for it when it is directly attacked; if by momentary discouragement or temporary panic, they can be deluded by the artifices used to cheat them out of it; or if in a fit of enthusiasm for an individual, they can be induced to lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man, in all these cases, they are more or less unfit for liberty. And though it may have been to their good to have had it for a short time, they are unlikely long to enjoy it.’

The United States PATRIOT Act was well intentioned, Mr. Chairman, especially during a time of uncertainty and panic. However, now we have had a chance to step back and examine it objectively. The legislation deserves serious reevaluation. While I agree with some of the new powers granted to the Federal law enforcement authorities that may be, and I stress ‘may be,’ necessary, many more are unjustified and are dangerously undermining our civil liberties.

We have the opportunity to revisit these sections of the USA PATRIOT Act and to correct these mistakes from those first frenzied weeks after September 11, 2001.

One provision, section 213, allows delayed notification of the execution of a search warrant. It authorizes no-knock searches of private residences, our homes, either physically or electronically. By putting off notice of the execution of a warrant, even delaying it indefinitely, section 213 of the USA PATRIOT Act prevents people, or even their attorneys, from reviewing the warrant for correctness in legalities.

These ‘sneak and peek’ searches give the government the power to repeatedly search a private residence without informing the residents that he or she is the target of an investigation. Not only does this provision allow the seizure of personal property and business records without notification, but it also opens the door to nationwide search warrants and allows the CIA and the NSA to operate domestically.

American citizens, whom the government has pledged to protect from terrorist activities, now find themselves the victims of the very weapon designed to uproot their enemies.

It is in defense of these freedoms that I offer this amendment today to the Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for the fiscal year 2004 bill. This amendment would prohibit any funds from being used to carry out section 213 of the USA PATRIOT Act as signed into law on October 26, 2001. Through the passage of this amendment, Americans would have reinstated a different kind of security; one giving them renewed confidence in their government in tirelessly protecting their individual freedom from unjustified and unnecessary intrusion.

Being secure at the expense of our freedom is no real security. Like many Idahoans who have come to me with their concerns about the USA PATRIOT Act and in passionate defense of their freedoms, we must continue to examine our actions to correct our mistakes to guard against the apathy or the indifference to safeguarding our liberties.

To these Federal agencies, it is a house, it is a building, it is a business; but to us, Mr. Chairman, it is our homes, and there is nothing more sacred than homes in America because it is the foundation on which we build our families. It is the arsenal in which the virtue and hope of every generation resides, and it is the fundamental primer of any free people.

We can, with the adoption of this first alteration to the PATRIOT Act, begin the reclamation of our title of a Nation as a people fit for liberty.”

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee (Statement of Chairman Sensenbrenner at House Judiciary Committee Oversight Hearing on the Department of Justice, 6/05/2003)

“As I stressed during legislative consideration of the PATRIOT Act, my support for this legislation is neither perpetual or unconditional. I believe the Department of Justice and Congress must be vigilant toward short-term gains which ultimately may cause long-term harm to the spirit of liberty and equality which animate the American character. We must maintain a fundamental commitment to ensure the protection of Americans while defending the beliefs that make us American. To my mind, the purpose of the PATRIOT Act is to secure our liberties, not undermine them.”

Rep. Wally Herger (R-CA) (“Patriot Act seen as danger to civil liberties,” Mount Shasta News, 6/04/2003)

“It’s a fine line we walk between our freedoms and having to defend ourselves. The Act has to be carefully monitored so it is not abused and the innocent are not harmed.”

Wayne Anthony Ross, former National Rifle Association vice president (“I Spy,” Anchorage Daily News, 5/23/2003)

“This (act) needs a substantial amount of review.”

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) (“Young wants changes in Patriot Act,” Associated Press, 5/13/2003)

“I think the Patriot Act was not really thought out. I’m very concerned that, in our desire for security and our enthusiasm for pursuing supposedly terrorists, that sometimes we might be on the verge of giving up the freedoms which we’re trying to protect.”

[On the possibility that he would co-sponsor legislation introduced by Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), that prevent judges on the FISA court from issuing warrants to search library and bookstore records for “personally identifiable information concerning a patron.”]

“It goes to show you I’m willing to look at the right side of an issue. I think he’s right in this issue. I don’t think it’s anybody’s business what I’m reading in the library.”

James Gilmore, Chair, Federal Commission on Terrorism Policy and former Virginia Governor (“Gilmore Cautious Over State Of Security And Civil Liberties,” National Journal: Technology Daily, 5/12/2003)

“I am not prepared to say that the [USA] PATRIOT Act is being used in any unlawful way, but as citizens, we have a duty to be watchful of that, particularly if PATRIOT Act II comes along.”

Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT), member of the House Judiciary Committee, (“Senate OKs More Power for FBI Surveillance,” Salt Lake Tribune, 5/10/2003)

[On Senator Hatch’s proposal to lift the sunset clauses from the PATRIOT Act]

“On the House side, and I can assure in the Judiciary Committee especially, there is not going to be much traction for Sen. Hatch’s idea. It” just not going to go anywhere on this side, nor should it, from my perspective.”

“Nobody knows how this law is being used, that’s a fair knock, and if U.S. attorneys could do anything they wanted, nobody would be safe. It’s going to take a while for [law enforcement] to adjust their procedures and their safeguards, and if they are not forthcoming on what they are doing, they are going to get slapped really hard.”

James Gilmore, Chair, Federal Commission on Terrorism Policy and former Virginia Governor (“Gilmore: Security Must Not Come at Freedom’s Expense,” Daily Press, 5/9/2003)

“It’s almost un-American to think about challenging the law. I am not prepared to say that the application of the Patriot Act is being done improperly. But as citizens and as lawyers, we need to be watchful.”

Bob Barr, former Republican member of Congress (“Both right and left condemn Patriot Act,” The Hill, 5/6/2003)

“There are a lot of people who say, ‘I don’t have anything to hide.’ But every one of us is subject to being criminalized.”

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee (“Sensenbrenner vows to uphold sunset of added police powers,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 4/18/2003)

[On the issue of making permanent many of the expanded police powers]

“That will be done over my dead body.”

“If they want the sunset to be repealed, they’re going to have to show that Patriot Act One is constitutional and has done good things.”

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee (“Key Republican Not Sure on Patriot Act,” Associated Press, 4/16/2003)

[When asked about the future of the USA PATRIOT Act]

“I can’t answer that because the Justice Department has classified as top-secret most of what it’s doing under the Patriot Act. The burden will be on the Justice Department and whomever is attorney general at that time to convince Congress and the president to extend the Patriot Act or modify it. But because of the fact that everything has been classified as top-secret, the public debate is centering on (the act’s) onerousness.”

David Keene, Chairman of the American Conservative Union (“National Security vs. Civil Liberties: Finding a Balance” Press Release, American Conservative Union, 4/10/2003)

“These infringements on the individual freedoms of American citizens are not part of some plot or conspiracy to deprive us of our civil liberties. The President, the Attorney General and those interested in maximizing individual liberty need to work together to guarantee that we can defend ourselves without altering the nature of the greatest society on earth. The USA PATRIOT Act was passed in haste included ideas previously shelved by the Congress, like expanded civil forfeiture and roving wiretaps: ideas that law enforcement wanted, but could never get. When creating sound anti-terrorism legislation, the line should not be drawn at ‘what is helpful for law enforcement,’ but at what is needed to protect us while preserving the proper balance between preserving civil liberties and our nation’s national security needs.”

Dick Armey, former Republican member of Congress and former House Majority Leader (“Judiciary – Armey Bashes Ashcroft’s Leadership On Privacy Issues,” National Journal: Congress Daily, 3/14/2003)

“Before they ever got through with a full implementation of the authorities under the PATRIOT Act, they were back asking for more.”

“If you talk with Sensenbrenner, he is furious with the Department of Justice’s refusal to cooperate on oversight.”

Christopher Pyle, former U.S. Army intelligence officer, served on the Church Committee, (“Conservative Backlash Provisions of ‘Patriot II’ Draft Worry Those on Right,”, 3/12/2003)

“I don’t think the Fourth Amendment exists anymore. I think it’s been buried by the Patriot Act and some of the court rulings that have been handed down. We need a requiem mass for theFourth Amendment, because it’s gone.”

Rep. Don Young (R-AK), (Talk of Alaska Radio Interview, 2/11/2003)

“Everybody voted for it [the PATRIOT Act] but it was stupid, it was what you call ’emotional voting’?because we didn’t follow it through, we didn’t study it. I say it’s the worst piece of legislation we’ve ever passed.”

Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX), House Majority Leader and Chair of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, (“Armey: Justice ‘Out of Control'” USA TODAY, 10/16/2002)

“I told the President I thought his Justice Department was out of control? Are we going to save ourselves from international terrorism in order to deny the fundamental liberties we protect to ourselves?? It doesn’t make sense to me.”

David Keene, Chairman of the American Conservative Union (“Ashcroft: Good Intentions on a Bad Road” The Hill, 7/31/2002)

“The Bush administration argues convincingly that roving wiretaps, reading people’s e-mail, putting video cameras on every corner and perusing their library habits will make it easier to catch terrorists before they act?the problem is that once all this is in place, we will no longer be living in the same country we lived in prior to Sept. 11.”

Paul Weyrich, President of the Free Congress Foundation (“Ashcroft’s Terrorism Policies Dismay Some Conservatives” The New York Times, 7/24/2002)

“A lot of the social conservatives appreciate the stands he’s taken on child pornography and the Second Amendment and a number of social issues. But there is suddenly a great concern that what was passed in the wake of 9-11 were things that had little to do with catching terrorists but a lot to do with increasing the strength of government to infiltrate and spy on conservative organizations.” [In an 8/6/2002 op-ed in the Washington Times, Weyrich indicated that his concerns primarily related to how a future Attorney General, not Ashcroft, would use new governmental powers.]

Ken Connor, President of the Family Research Council (“Ashcroft’s Terrorism Policies Dismay Some Conservatives” The New York Times, 7/24/2002)

“It’s important that we conservatives maintain a high degree of vigilance. We need to ask ourselves the questions, ‘How would our groups fare under these new rules?”

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee (“J. Edgar Hoover Is Back” Washington Times, 6/10/2002)

“The Justice Department has gone too far. [We can have security]? without throwing respect for civil liberties into the trash heap. We don’t have to go back to the bad old days when the FBI was spying on p

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