(WASHINGTON, DC, 7/18/2005) - CAIR today called on all people of conscience to ask their elected officials to support common sense changes to the USA Patriot Act that would protect both national security and civil liberties. Sixteen provisions of the act are slated to expire at the end of this year and Congress is considering modifications. A bill that permanently extends many controversial sections of the Patriot Act was considered by two House committees last Wednesday. It is expected to go to a vote on the House floor this week. Hundreds of CAIR supporters have already taken action by contacting or meeting with their elected representatives to express their concerns. They asked that Congress:
* Pass the Security and Freedom Enhancement (SAFE) Act of 2005 (H.R. 1526 and S. 737) and the Protection of Civil Liberties Act (H.R. 1310)
* Set any renewed provision to sunset again in 2007 and add a similar sunset provision to Section 213, which does not sunset. This ensures that measures undertaken in times of great need do not endure longer than necessary. Two of the Patriot Act's provisions in particular raise major civil liberties concerns.
* Section 215 allows law enforcement to acquire a search warrant for "any tangible thing." This can include: library records, medical records, and travel records. Additionally, it places a gag order on the person who must turn over records. Under this provision, a librarian could not tell his or her lawyer that they had to turn over someone's library records.
* Section 213 replaces traditional "knock and announce" search warrants with "sneak and peek." searches, delaying notice of the execution of a search warrant for a "reasonable time." This can mean never informing the subject of the warrant that their possessions were searched. In substantive cases involving international or domestic terrorism, investigations conducted in secret are reasonable. However, Section 213, as written, is not limited to terror cases. It can be applied to any federal investigation, such as an examination of delinquent student loans.
"Congress hears the concerns of constituents,” said CAIR Governmental Affairs Director Corey Saylor, “Already, a positive modification disallowing funds for law enforcement searches of bookstores and libraries has passed the House.” (E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)