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The Patriot Act: I Know What It's Like

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August 16, 2007

Yesterday at a courtroom in downtown Manhattan, Jameel Jaffer and lawyers from the ACLU’s National Security Program argued the unconstitutionality of the Patriot Act gag forced upon the our John Doe client: the recipient of a National Security Letter (NSL). “John Doe,” the president of an Internet Service Provider, received an FBI demand for customer usage records. We argued that this John Doe, indeed all John and Jane Does, should not be gagged by the NSLs, and that the excessive use of secrecy by the FBI and other agencies is an open invitation to abuse.

With us in the in the courtroom yesterday was a former John Doe, ACLU client Peter Chase. Peter is a librarian who received a similar unconstitution records demand under the Patriot Act’s NSL provision. Yesterday in the Huffington Post, Peter wrote about his bond to our current John Doe client:

Like friends, we have a lot in common. In an op-ed he wrote last year, I learned that just like me, John Doe brought his legal papers home and hid them so his family wouldn’t find them. And just like I did, when he gets certain telephone calls, he has to leave the room to speak … I am not able to call my friend to wish him good luck today in court. I can’t track him down outside the courthouse and give him a pat on the back. I can only send him this message, from a former John Doe: Your day will come. And when it does, when you step out onto the stage to tell your story for the first time, I am going to be in the front row of the audience, standing up, cheering the loudest. Because I know what it’s like and you deserve some applause.

HuffPo readers have already posted several supportive and inspiring comments for both John Doe and Peter:

CharleyJames: “Mr. Chase, you are a genuine American hero. You have shown the rest of us how a true Patriot Acts.”

TheIndependenceParty: “That you were willing to stand for the liberties of patrons, most of whom you could not personally know, is, to me, a truly patriotic deed as it seeks to preserve rights for us all, when courageous Americans such as you stand in protest.”

MidwestBlue: Thank you so much for defending our liberties. You have more courage in your little finger than our entire three branches of government have in their collective body.

Itmaybetoolate: Those who do nothing when our Constitution is assaulted are traitors. You sir are a true patriot! The Founding Fathers would be proud of you!! I thank you and hope one day to be able to thank John Doe when he posts a column here.

Thanks to everyone who already commented, and if you haven’t already, show your support for Peter and John Doe. They’re both reading your posts!

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