Thursday, October 29, 2009

URGENT: Act Now to Reform the Patriot Act!

From ALA District Dispatch:

Call your member in the House of Representatives and urge her/him to reform the USA PATRIOT Act now! Please ask your representative to co-sponsor the USA PATRIOT Amendments Act of 2009 (H.R. 3845), introduced by Rep. Conyers (MI-14) and others on October 20, 2009.

Mr. Conyers and the other cosponsors should be thanked for introducing H.R. 3845.
A mark-up in the House Judiciary Committee is currently scheduled for Wednesday, November 4. Your calls are urgently needed before this mark-up! Call your individual representative’s office or the U.S. Capital switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

BACKGROUND: Three PATRIOT Act provisions are set to expire on December 31, 2009. This is the best chance we have had in the last eight years to get significant reforms to Section 215, often called the “library provision,” and to national security letters (NSLs).
The USA PATRIOT Amendments Act of 2009 protects constitutional speech and privacy rights by:

  • Amending the NSL statute to ensure that the government only obtains financial, communication and credit records of people believed to be terrorists or spies;
  • Requiring the government to convince a court that a national security gag order is necessary; and
  • Ensuring that Section 215 does not authorize collection of library and bookstore records if they contain individualized information on the patron.

To find out who your member of Congress is, please go to the Legislative Action Center:

Library grassroots advocacy efforts have helped lead to the introduction of this strong Conyers bill to bring balance back to our civil liberties while allowing law enforcement to fight terrorist threats. We must do everything we can to ensure that the House of Representatives passes H.R. 3845, a bill that can lead to genuine reform of the deeply-flawed USA PATRIOT Act.

This is especially so because the Senate is set to pass a bill with far, far weaker reforms. Also, as expected, there is significant opposition to these reforms, including from the White House, the Department of Justice and the House Intelligence Committee. Many calls from library supporters and others will be needed to overcome this opposition. Call now with the following message:

  • Pass H.R. 3845 to protect reader privacy and other First Amendment activities in libraries and bookstores;
  • Reform Section 215 and national security letters so that a higher legal standard is required to obtain these types of orders;
  • Ensure and maintain the legal right to challenge gag orders and require judicial review and reassessment to continue such gag orders;
  • Continue the required audits and public reports so that Congress and the public can assess the impact of these laws; and
  • Maintain the sunsets so that there can be regular Congressional and public oversight to protect against abuses of law enforcement powers.

No comments: