(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/29/05) - CAIR is urging American Muslims and other people of conscience to continue voicing opposition to the unsupervised domestic surveillance powers contained in the USA Patriot Act. A House-Senate compromise renewing the Patriot Act was derailed just before Thanksgiving. The renewal process will be concluded within the next few weeks. Sixteen provisions of the Patriot Act are due to expire at the end of December.
Six Senators, three Republicans and three Democrats, announced their opposition to the late-November deal. Senate majority leader Bill Frist says he expects the legislation's Senate opponents will filibuster it if their civil liberties concerns are not addressed.
Two Patriot Act provisions of great concern are Sections 215 and 505.
Section 215 allows law enforcement to acquire a search warrant for "any tangible thing." It also forbids the warrant's recipient from telling anyone about the warrant. CAIR and other civil liberties groups support a Senate provision that would have required that the government show that a person whose records are sought has some connection to a terror suspect. Currently, law enforcement officials must merely say the records are needed for an ongoing investigation.
Under Section 505, National Security Letters (NSL) can be authorized by FBI field inspectors. NSLs allow access to such records as financial, business dealings, telephone calls, e-mails, web sites visited, and Internet searches. They do not require a judge's approval and are typically presented to employers or internet service providers who are then prohibited from informing anyone of the request, even their own lawyers. The Washington Post recently reported that a stunning 30,000 such letters are being issued annually.
IMMEDIATE ACTIONS REQUESTED:
1) Contact your elected representatives and ask them to ensure that any deal on the Patriot Act includes the following modifications:
a. Law enforcement authorities should be required to prove that a person whose records are sought has some connection to a terror suspect.
b. There must be a meaningful right to challenge Patriot Act orders. Recipients of these orders should be allowed to share the information with their lawyers.