House Patriot Act Vote Fails to Protect Innocent Americans and Privacy, ACLU Calls on Senate to Reject Pressure, Stand for the Constitution

December 14, 2005 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today expressed disappointment with the failure of the House to protect the liberty and freedom of innocent Americans when that body adopted flawed legislation to reauthorize the Patriot Act. The White House and its allies had placed enormous pressure on lawmakers to adopt the proposal that now heads to the Senate.

On a vote of 251 to 174, the House passed a bill to reauthorize the Patriot Act that fails to put needed checks and balances against abuse into the law. The ACLU noted that the reauthorization bill ignored growing calls to reform this law to focus on suspected foreign terrorists while protecting the privacy and civil liberties of Americans. A motion to recommit, which would have permitted lawmakers to correct the bill, failed on a close vote of 202 to 224.

The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“Some members of Congress capitulated to White House pressure and failed the American people. We applaud those Representatives who voted against this flawed bill–they have honored their oath to uphold the Constitution. With a vote likely later this week, we urge Senators to stand firm in their commitment to our fundamental freedoms and reject this unsound bill. Our Founding Fathers were rightly skeptical of the government’s search powers, powers that the Patriot Act vastly expanded without adequate checks against abuse and cloaked in secrecy. We call on the more deliberative Senate to reject the false premise that this legislation is the best that Congress can do.

“Despite the misguided rhetoric from proponents of the faulty bill, the modest changes called for by the ACLU and its allies from across the political spectrum do not undermine the ability of our law enforcement to secure our nation. The Senate recognized that when they adopted legislation that better balanced security and freedom. Our federal government has limited resources, and these corrections would have helped focus those powers on individuals connected to a suspected terrorist or terrorist organization. Our legacy of liberty demands that we can, and must, keep America both safe and free.”

To read the ACLU’s letter to Congress on the conference report, go to:
/safefree/general/22394leg20051207.html

For more on the ACLU’s concerns with the Patriot Act, go to:
http://www.reformthepatriotact.org

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