Monday, November 14, 2005

what is it with republicans hating civil liberties?

From John Conyers blog:
Patriot Act Action Center

Renewal of the Patriot Act has begun its final legislative consideration in a conference committee between House and Senate conferees. Although we will find it very difficult to defeat this bill, I will do everything in my power to ensure that this legislation is balanced and limited. I will need your help and your voice to join me in opposition to this bill.

When Congress passed the Patriot Act immediately following 9/11, we warned that the definition of terrorism was so broad that it could sweep in benign groups who were simply using tools of civil disobedience to make a political point, or even unions engaged in picketing. The Republicans told us not to worry, that the Department could be trusted not to abuse their authority.

Recent reports indicate that we do, indeed, need to worry about the conduct of the Department of Justice under this Act. Recently, the ACLU discovered, through the Freedom of Information Act, that the FBI had designated a Michigan-based peace group and affirmative action advocacy organization had been labeled "terrorist organizations."

The Michigan disclosure comes on top of news this week that the Bush administration has been using "national security letters" to conduct surveillance on more than 30,000 Americans a year. These letters allow the FBI to access correspondence, email and financial records to investigate terrorists. While this information is not to be collected for reasons other than investigating terrorism, we have learned that the government has been acquiring vast amounts of information on ordinary citizens. Even more disconcerting is that the Bush administration has eliminated FBI guidelines that required this data to be destroyed if it the reason for its collection was no longer relevant to the investigation. Instead, this information is kept in perpetuity, stored in massive government databases, and shared freely with other government agencies.

There has clearly been widespread abuse using the Patriot Act and the rights and liberties of innocent Americans are what has been lost.Please use this site to learn more about the Act and use the Action Center to help us in Congress fight this bill.

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