Constitution Project Releases Statement on Reforming the Patriot Act

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Matthew Allee
(202) 580-6922 or
mallee@constitutionproject.org

Constitution Project Releases Statement on Reforming the Patriot Act

Sunsetting provisions provide opportunity to adopt safeguards for individual rights

WASHINGTON - As the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil
Rights, and Civil Liberties meets today for a hearing on the USA
PATRIOT Act, the Constitution Project's Liberty and Security Committee
releases its Statement on Reforming the Patriot Act. Thomas
B. Evans Jr., former member of Congress from Delaware and Co-Chairman
of the Republican National Committee, and Michael German, policy
counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union and former FBI agent,
both members of the Project's Liberty and Security Committee, are
scheduled to testify before the Subcommittee during today's hearing.

"The Patriot Act was hastily passed in the wake of the
September 11th attacks eight years ago without full consideration of
its implications," said Thomas B. Evans Jr. "Congress missed the
opportunity to correct these deficiencies four years ago when the Act
was up for renewal. Now that debate has emerged around the sunsetting
provisions this year, I hope Congress will use this chance to
incorporate strong protections for constitutional rights and civil
liberties, while, at the same time, keeping our nation safe. National
security and the liberties of American citizens are not competing
interests."
The Statement, signed by a diverse group of 26 policy experts
representing the full political spectrum, advocates for significant
reform to the three sunsetting sections: the business/library records,
lone wolf, and roving wiretaps provisions. It also states that Congress
should take this opportunity to revisit and reform the National
Security Letter (NSL) authority expanded by the Patriot Act, whose
abuse has been documented by the Justice Department's Inspector
General, as well as the Act's provision allowing deportation and denial
of visas based on individuals' political views.
A week ago today, the Department of Justice sent a letter to
members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, laying out the Obama
administration's view on the sunsetting provisions. The administration
stated its support for their renewal, but indicated it would be open to
reform to enhance privacy protections. The Senate will also begin
consideration of the expiring provisions in a hearing scheduled for
tomorrow in the Judiciary Committee.
"Although the Patriot Act was passed with the commendable goal
of providing the federal government with the tools needed to prevent
future terrorist attacks, the Act is overly broad and lacks the
necessary safeguards to preserve individual liberties," added Sharon
Bradford Franklin, Constitution Project Senior Counsel. "As Congress
resumes debate on much-needed reforms to the Patriot Act, we hope
Members will follow the Liberty and Security Committee's
recommendations to restore the constitutional safeguards established by
our nation's founders. We are encouraged by the administration's
expressed willingness to consider additional privacy protections, and
call on Congress and the administration to work together to ensure that
we provide the government with the needed authorities to keep our
nation safe, while adopting reforms to safeguard the privacy and
individual rights of all Americans."
To view the Liberty and Security Committee's Statement on Reforming the Patriot Act, go to:
http://www.constitutionproject.org/manage/file/340.pdf
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The Constitution Project is a politically independent think tank established in 1997 to promote and defend constitutional safeguards. More information about the Constitution Project is available at http://constitutionproject.org/.

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