San Francisco to Become Largest City in CA to Vote on Resolution Opposing the USA PATRIOT Act

January 13, 2003 12:00 am

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SAN FRANCISCO The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will vote on a resolution today opposing the USA PATRIOT Act and calling upon city agencies and private citizens to defend civil liberties and rights.

“San Francisco is joining a growing national movement of towns and cities that oppose the USA PATRIOT Act and are gathering to reclaim their civil liberties and civil rights,” said Sanjeev Bery of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.

The resolution was introduced by Supervisor Jake McGoldrick and co-sponsored by Supervisors Gerardo Sandoval, Supervisor Aaron Peskin, Supervisor Matt Gonzalez, Supervisor Chris Daly and Supervisor Tom Ammiano.

“I have introduced this resolution to send a message to the Bush Administration that individual citizens will not tolerate these widespread violations of their civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism,” said McGoldrick. “The USA PATRIOT Act encourages the use of racial profiling and creates an atmosphere of hate against immigrants who have done nothing wrong. This is something we in San Francisco will not tolerate.”

If the resolution passes as expected, San Francisco will become the largest city in the state to pass a resolution which “affirms that any efforts to end terrorism not be waged at the expense of the fundamental civil rights and liberties of the people.”

In California, several other cities and towns have passed similar resolutions, including Oakland, Santa Cruz, Berkeley, Fairfax, and Sebastopol. With the help of the national ACLU and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, towns and cities all over the country have passed resolutions; similar efforts are underway in more than 50 cities in 25 states, the ACLU said.

The San Francisco resolution lists a series of provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act and related executive orders that may violate the Constitution and the civil rights and liberties of San Francisco residents, including measures that:

  • Significantly expand the government’s ability to access sensitive medical, mental health, financial and educational records about individuals, and lower the burden of proof required to conduct secret searches and telephone and Internet surveillance;
  • Gives law-enforcement expanded authority to obtain library records, and prohibit librarians from informing patrons of monitoring or information requests;
  • Gives the Attorney General and the Secretary of State the power to designate domestic groups, including religious and political organizations as “terrorist organizations;”
  • Grants power to the Attorney General to subject citizens of other nations to indefinite detention or deportation even if they have not committed a crime;
  • Authorizes eavesdropping of confidential communications between attorneys and their clients in federal custody;
  • Limits disclosure of public documents and records under the Freedom of Information Act.

“The USA PATRIOT Act is overbroad and threatens the confidentiality of personal information, which is a hallmark of our democratic society,” said Susan Hildreth, a City Librarian with the San Francisco Public Library. “The assumption that use of library materials is a private matter is central to the public library system in America — a system that is threatened by this Act.”

The resolution calls on California representatives and Senators “to monitor the implementation” of the USA PATRIOT Act and relevant executive orders and to “actively work for the repeal of the Act and those Orders that violate fundamental rights and liberties as stated in the United States Constitution and its Amendments.”

President Bush signed the USA PATRIOT Act into law on October 26, 2001. It contains sweeping provisions that expand the government’s authority to plant wiretaps, enter homes, search computers, and carry out other covert surveillance. The Act also permits the FBI to subpoena private customer records from libraries, bookstores, hospitals and credit card companies, among other places, without probable cause. It also makes it illegal for anyone who has received such a subpoena to talk about it.

For more information on the movement to pass resolutions opposing the Bush Administration’s anti-civil liberties measures, go to /node/22776

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