November 14, 2007

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Washington, DC – Brandon Mayfield, an Oregon attorney falsely linked to terrorism, sent a statement to Congress this month urging the body against legislation that would overhaul the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Mayfield was subject to unconstitutional surveillance under the Patriot Act and subsequently arrested and held without charge. Mayfield wrote a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee members Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Russell Feingold (D-WI) asking that they consider the effect that the FISA Amendments Act of 2007 would have on innocent Americans.

"Mr. Mayfield’s case is a cautionary tale," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "When we give the government too much power at the cost of our civil liberties, no one is safe. Mr. Mayfield’s experience has taught us that expanding government powers without checks and balances can actually effect and ruin people's lives. Congress has an obligation to make certain that innocent Americans and their rights are protected."

With both the House and Senate considering legislation to gut FISA, the ACLU is raising serious concerns about any proposed law that would not include individualized warrants and other Fourth Amendment protections. Mr. Mayfield was the victim of ill-conceived and hastily passed legislation. The ACLU noted that if major changes are not made to both the House and Senate bills, there will be many more like Mr. Mayfield in the future.

"When legislation is written that waters down the standard of the Fourth Amendment, it is not the guilty who suffer, but the innocent," said Mayfield in his statement. "The Patriot Act weakened the requirements the government needed under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in order to bug my home and office, and this weakening of the law – now found unconstitutional – caused the framework designed to protect the innocent to fail."

To read Brandon Mayfield’s statement to Congress, go to:

To read more about the ACLU’s work on the Patriot Act and FISA, go to:

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