Vermont Legislature Resolution

Document Date: May 29, 2003

Whereas, on September 11, 2001, for the first time since the War of 1812, the continental United States was subjected to an attack from abroad when terrorists commandeered four commercial airliners and destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City and caused significant damage to the Pentagon, and

Whereas, in response to these tragic and devastating events, which cost nearly 3,000 innocent American lives in New York City, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, Congress adopted the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56), which is intended to enable the federal government to act authoritatively in preventing future attacks, and

Whereas, while the prevention of future terrorist attacks is a critical national priority, it is equally important to preserve the fundamental civil liberties and personal freedoms which were enshrined in the Bill of Rights over 200 years ago, and which has been preserved through a constant vigilance and outcry against periodic threats to its existence, and

Whereas, while sunset review dates were attached to certain provisions, those provisions and other provisions, as enumerated in this resolution, remain the greatest challenge to civil liberties since the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, and

Whereas, under the auspices of both the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act and related executive orders, persons from the Middle East and South Asia have been targeted for interrogation and possible deportation, and

Whereas, the ability of the Central Intelligence Agency to engage in domestic spying activities, fortunately halted in the 1970s, could now be revived pursuant to sections 223 and 901 of the Act, and

Whereas, section 213 greatly lowers the threshold required for a court to issue a search warrant, and

Whereas, section 216 significantly reduces the scope and effectiveness of judicial oversight of telephone and internet surveillance, and

Whereas, section 411 gives the U.S. Attorney General sole and complete oversight authority to designate domestic groups as ""terrorist organizations,"" and

Whereas, both sections 411 and 412 subject noncitizens to indefinite detention or deportation even if they have not committed a crime, and

Whereas, several sections of the bill, including 215, 218, 358, and 508, permit law enforcement authorities to have broad access to sensitive mental health, library, business, financial, and educational records despite the existence of previously adopted state and federal laws which were intended to strengthen the protection of these types of records, and

Whereas, there has been an outcry in Vermont against the ability of federal authorities, under section 215 of the Act, to obtain

judicially-issued warrants for library or bookstore patron records based on minimal information and the accompanying prohibition on librarians and bookstore personnel from revealing any information regarding the request, and

Whereas, this provision runs directly counter to the intent of the Vermont General Assembly to protect the privacy of a library patron's records as codified in Title 3 § 317(c)(19) of the Vermont Statutes Annotated and the Code of Ethics of the American Library Association, and

Whereas, the Vermont Library Association has expressed its strongest possible concerns that the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act undermines constitutionally-protected rights and the privacy of library patrons, and

Whereas, the provisions of the law cited in this resolution threaten the civic values, personal freedoms, and rights that constitute the foundation of our national existence, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly strongly urges the President and members of the executive branch to review, revise, or rescind executive orders and policies which have been adopted since September 11, 2001 which limit or impinge upon liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and be it further

Resolved: That the General Assembly strongly urges the United States Congress to amend the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act in order to restore and protect our nation's fundamental liberties, beginning by exempting libraries and bookstores from the provisions of the Act, and be it further

Resolved: That the General Assembly strongly supports the repeal of all statutory provisions of the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act which are subject to a sunset no later, if not sooner, than their scheduled termination dates, and be it further

Resolved: That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the President of the United States, to each member of the Vermont Congressional Delegation, and to Keith M. Fiels, Executive Director of the American Library Association, in Chicago.

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