The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Amy Ferrer, Associate Director,, (413) 582-0110

Grassroots Constitutionalists Distressed by PATRIOT Extension


On Saturday, President Obama signed into law legislation extending all three provisions of the controversial PATRIOT Act that were set to expire in 2009, without any of the long overdue protections for civil liberties and transparency demanded by voices from across the political spectrum. The President's signature follows a 315-97 vote in the House last Thursday, and a 70-28 vote in the Senate last Wednesday.

By abandoning even the minor protections and reporting requirements crafted by the House and Senate Judiciary Committees last fall, Congress has once again abdicated its responsibility to check and balance the executive branch, writing another blank check despite documented, repeated, and ongoing abuses. The Bill of Rights Defense Committee, which has led the grassroots opposition to the PATRIOT Act's privacy- and Constitution-violating surveillance powers since 2001, is distressed and deeply disappointed by the extension of these provisions without needed protections for privacy and civil liberties that the American public has called on Congress to provide.

BORDC Executive Director Shahid Buttar reacted to the extension, saying, "Despite repeated abuses by intelligence agencies documented by the executive branch itself, Congress just wrote another blank check for the FBI and other agencies to continue abusing the rights of millions of law-abiding Americans. Congress holds a constitutional responsibility to ensure transparency and accountability in government and its repeated failure holds tragic consequences for our Republic."

Chip Pitts, president of BORDC's board of directors, concurred, saying, "Grassroots education and action remain paramount if we are to have any chance of 'leading our leaders' in Congress and the executive branch and restoring the fundamental rights that have always formed the cornerstone of our national identity, success, and true strength. The Bill of Rights Defense Committee and activists, affinity groups, and coalition partners around the country remain committed to the defending and restoring those rights."

Defending Rights & Dissent strengthens our participatory democracy by protecting the right to political expression. About the merger of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and Defending Dissent Foundation In 2015, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) and the Defending Dissent Foundation agreed to merge to place both organizations and their respective supporters in an even stronger position to help restore constitutional rights eroded by executive agencies. While BORDC was established to fight the PATRIOT Act in the wake of its passage under the Bush administration, DDF was founded decades ago to fight the McCarthy-era witch hunt that targeted law-abiding Americans on the basis of their political beliefs. Both organizations are committed to popular constitutionalism, and work with grassroots Americans from all walks of life to help them raise their voices to confront the national security state.