Uncle Sam Asks: "What The Hell Is Going On Here?"in New ACLU Print and Radio Advertisements

September 3, 2003 12:00 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

Uncle Sam Asks: “What The Hell Is Going On Here?”in New ACLU Print and Radio Advertisements

Contact: Media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union has launched the latest installment in its advertising campaign to “Keep America Safe and Free,” using the image of Uncle Sam to urge certain fixes to problem provisions — which go beyond anything conceivably necessary to fight terrorism — in the controversial USA PATRIOT Act.

“Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle and Americans of all political stripes realize that PATRIOT went too far, too fast.” said Laura Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “The public needs to know what freedoms have been lost under the PATRIOT Act, and how we can restore them. As we move forward, we can and must be both safe and free.”

The print advertisements, which run this week in The New York Times and Roll Call, highlight how the PATRIOT Act and other government policies are eroding civil liberties . The ad depicts a stern-faced “Uncle Sam” – the ultimate patriot — underneath the headline: “What the hell is going on here?” Radio ads with a similar theme are airing currently in Alaska, New Hampshire, Texas, Utah and Vermont.

What is “going on,” the ads explain, are specific provisions in the PATRIOT Act including the statute authorizing “sneak and peek” delayed-notification searches; the notorious Section 215, which allows the FBI to secretly access personal records from bookstores, libraries, medical and educational facilities without probable cause, and section 802, which defines “domestic terrorism” too broadly and could allow the FBI to harass advocacy groups for their political activity.

The PATRIOT Act has been under increased Congressional scrutiny and pressure of late. Last month, the House of Representatives adopted, on an overwhelming bipartisan majority, an amendment offered by Rep. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R-ID) prohibiting the implementation of “sneak-and-peek” searches under the PATRIOT Act. Also in Congress, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) recently introduced a bill to narrow other sections of the law, and Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) sponsored a bill to roll back Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. In the courts, the ACLU filed the first lawsuit against a section of the PATRIOT Act this past summer.

Across the United States, more than 157 communities – including three states – have passed resolutions calling for a fix to troubling sections of the PATRIOT Act. Many contain language calling for the most controversial provisions of the PATRIOT Act to be brought back in line with American traditions. Both the print and radio ads call for the audience to contact their members of Congress.

“When average Americans hear about these new powers,” Murphy added, “many realize that the PATRIOT Act is anything but patriotic. Our liberty and freedom demand the vigilance of the American public.”

The print ad can be seen at:

To listen to the radio ad, go to:

Sign up to be the first to hear about how to take action.

Learn More About the Issues in This Press Release