The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Mandy Simon, (202) 675-2312;

ACLU Releases Comprehensive Report On Patriot Act Abuses


American Civil Liberties Union released a comprehensive report today
examining widespread abuses that have occurred under the USA Patriot
Act, a law that was rushed through Congress just 45 days after
September 11. In the almost eight years since the passage of the
controversial national security law, the Patriot Act has led to
egregious government misconduct.

the gagging of our nation's librarians under the national security
letter statute to the gutting of time-honored surveillance laws, the
Patriot Act has been disastrous for Americans' rights," said Caroline
Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "In
the panic following the events of 9/11, our nation's lawmakers hastily
expanded the government's authority to a dangerous level and opened a
Pandora's box of surveillance."
American Civil Liberties Union's report, "Reclaiming Patriotism,"
authored by policy counsel Michael German and legislative counsel
Michelle Richardson, was delivered to congressional offices on Capitol
Hill, as well as posted to the newly re-launched site
The report is being released in anticipation of the upcoming
congressional debate surrounding three Patriot Act provisions due to
expire on December 31, 2009. The ACLU has been working within the halls
of Congress and the courts to introduce Patriot Act reform legislation.
In December of 2008, as a result of an ACLU lawsuit, the gag order
contained in the Patriot Act's National Security Letter (NSL) provision
was struck down.
Patriotism" reveals that in the years since its passage, the Patriot
Act has paved the way for the expansion of government-sponsored
surveillance including the gutting of the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act (FISA) and a recent revamping of the Attorney General
Guidelines to allow law enforcement to conduct physical surveillance
without suspicion. Indeed, over the last eight years, numerous
expansions of executive authority have worked in tandem to infringe
upon our rights. Only by understanding the larger picture of the
combined effects of Patriot Act, the amendments to FISA, the guidelines
for physical surveillance and other expansions of power can Congress
make an informed, consistent and principled decision about whether and
how to amend all of these very powerful surveillance tools.
fallout we've seen from the Patriot Act being rushed through the
legislative process is a dramatic example of the dire need for proper
and deliberative congressional oversight," said Fredrickson. "Congress
should use this year's Patriot Act reauthorization as an opportunity to
reexamine all of our surveillance laws. Our lawmakers have, over time,
built a massive surveillance mechanism bit by bit. Now is the time take
it apart, examine each piece and develop wiser policies."
read the ACLU's report "Reclaiming Patriotism" and learn more about the
three Patriot Act provisions up for expiration this year, go to:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(212) 549-2666