Conservatives Call on President Bush To Reconsider Unqualified Endorsement of Patriot Act
New Network, Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances, Launched to
Defeat Unchecked Powers of Patriot Act
Washington, DC, (March 22, 2005)– A national network of mostly conservative groups today launched a new organization, Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances, to ensure Congressional review and modification of provisions of the Patriot Act that are out of line with the Constitution and violate Fourth Amendment freedoms, including the right to privacy.
As a first step in the campaign, several PRCB members have sent a letter to President Bush urging him to reconsider his unqualified endorsement of the most intrusive, unchecked powers temporarily granted by the Patriot Act. The letter, signed by xx organizations states:
"When Congress passed the Patriot Act, just 45 days following the horrific attacks on September 11, 2001, a majority in Congress voted to make certain that the most extraordinary provisions of the act would be subject to Congressional review and would expire in December 2005. Now is the time for Congress to review and consider amending these provisions to protect Americans' most fundamental freedoms, and bring the law in line with the checks and balances demanded by the Constitution." (To read the full text of the letter to President Bush, visit the web site atwww.checksbalances.org.)
"There is no doubt the Patriot Act is necessary to provide law enforcement with the tools it needs to defeat terrorism," said Bob Barr, chairman of Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances. "But, some of its powers just go too far, such as allowing federal agents to search your home and examine your possessions secretly and not inform you they've done so for an unlimited amount of time. Some parts of the law give the federal government far too much power, and the Constitution's checks and balances are needed."
For example, PRCB is urging Congress to modify the following extreme provisions of the law:
· Section 215 allows federal agents to secretly collect records about you, such as medical documents, library records, and even records of firearm purchases, without specific evidence linking you individually to a foreign agent.
· Section 213 allows federal agents to secretly search peoples' homes and businesses and snoop through their personal property without notice.
· Section 802 expands the definition of domestic terrorism so broadly that ordinary people trying to exercise their First Amendment rights on issues across the political spectrum might get charged as terrorists.
Barr, former Congressman from Georgia and former U.S. attorney for the northern district of Georgia, is chairing the group. Other organizations and individuals joining PRCB to date include:
· Americans for Tax Reform
· American Conservative Union
· American Association of Physicians and Surgeons
· American Civil Liberties Union
· American Policy Center
· Citizens' Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
· Eagle Forum
· Second Amendment Foundation
· Brad Jansen, adjunct scholar, Competitive Enterprise Institute
"Our goal is not to gut the Patriot Act," added Barr. "Our goal is to ensure that Congress reviews the act, as members intended when they voted for the bill with the sunset provisions three years ago. PRCB is seeking modest changes to only a few extreme sections of the law. These changes will secure the important powers of the law while placing reasonable limits on their use."
David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, added: "There are few issues more important on the Congressional agenda in 2005 than the Patriot Act. What is at stake is Americans' Fourth Amendment freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution. All Americans, particularly those in Congress and the administration, must recognize the need to preserve checks and balances and bring the law in line with the Constitution."