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Brattleboro, Vermont

City/Town: Brattleboro
County: Windham
State: Vermont
Congressional District: (click to contact Rep.) 1

Population (2000 Census): 12,005
Date Passed: 02/04/03

Resolution calling on local government to defend state and federal Constitutions from threats imposed on them by the USA PATRIOT Act, the Homeland Security Act, and orders and rules of the executive branch:

Approved by: Brattleboro Selectboard

WHEREAS the Town of Brattleboro recognizes the Constitution of the United States of America to be the supreme law of the land, which public servants are sworn to uphold, superseding all state and federal laws, administrative rules, and local ordinances;

WHEREAS, many residents of Brattleboro and other communities across the nation are concerned that the USA PATRIOT Act threatens our civil rights and liberties by:

1. greatly expanding the government's ability to conduct secret searches;
2. all but eliminating judicial supervision of telephone and Internet surveillance;
3. granting unchecked power to the Attorney General and the Secretary of State to designate domestic groups as "terrorist organizations";
4. allowing the Attorney General to subject non-citizens to indefinite detention or deportation even if they have not committed a crime;
5. giving law enforcement officials broad access to sensitive medical, mental health, library, business, financial, educational, and other records about individuals without first showing probable cause or evidence of a crime;
6. placing the CIA back in the business of spying on Americans; and

WHEREAS, the Homeland Security Act:

7. increases secret surveillance and reduces privacy protections;
8. allows the federal government to maintain extensive files on all Americans without court order or probable cause or evidence of a crime;
9. expands the ability of government to access emails and information about an individual's Internet activity without judicial supervision, even when such a disclosure is not reasonable and does not deal with an imminent threat of injury;
10. provides exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act and the Sunshine Act, decreasing public access to information regarding government proceedings.

WHEREAS, our civil rights and liberties are further threatened by orders and rules of the executive branch that:

11. establish military tribunals for terrorism suspects;
12. permit wiretapping of conversations between federal prisoners and their lawyers;
13. revise Justice Department guidelines against illegal COINTELPRO-type operations-covert activities that in the past targeted domestic groups and individuals;
14. limit the disclosure of public documents and records under the Freedom of Information Act;

WHEREAS, the executive order on military tribunals also undermines the U.S. government's ability to denounce human rights violations carried out in secret by military tribunals elsewhere in the world;

WHEREAS, several law enforcement officials, including previous heads of the FBI, have decried the USA PATRIOT Act and the associated orders and rules of the executive branch as unnecessary to the prosecution of, and protection from, terrorism;

WHEREAS, communities across the nation have adopted resolutions opposing those parts of the USA PATRIOT Act, the Homeland Security Act, and associated orders and rules of the executive branch that threaten civil liberties; and

WHEREAS, the Vermont Library Association and the Vermont Booksellers' Association have adopted an open letter to Vermont's Congressional Delegation requesting that legislation be introduced to eliminate provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act that undermine constitutionally guaranteed rights;

THEREFORE IT IS RESOLVED that the Town of Brattleboro affirm the civil rights granted to all of its citizens and residents in accordance with the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution; and

IT IS FURTHER RESOLVED that the Brattleboro Selectboard affirm the Brattleboro Police Department's policy and practice of respecting and protecting freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, and privacy; upholding and advancing the presumption of innocence; acting at all times with due respect for the equality of all people, irrespective of race, religion, ethnic identity, or national origin; in no event engaging in racial profiling for any purpose; and guaranteeing the right to counsel and due process in judicial proceedings; and

IT IS FURTHER RESOLVED that the Town of Brattleboro request that federal, state, and county law enforcement officials acting within the Town work cooperatively with the Brattleboro Police Department in upholding and advancing each of the foregoing Police Department policies and standards; and

IT IS FURTHER RESOLVED that the Town of Brattleboro request that federal, state, and county law enforcement officials acting within the Town hold or detain no person without charging that person in accordance with the Constitution and the laws of this State and the United States; and

IT IS FURTHER RESOLVED that the Town of Brattleboro request that Vermont's Congressional delegation monitor the implementation of the USA PATRIOT Act, the Homeland Security Act, and the associated orders and rules of the executive branch and actively work for the repeal of those portions of the Acts and those orders and rules that violate the rights and liberties guaranteed by the United States Constitution; and

IT IS FINALLY RESOLVED that the Town Clerk communicate this resolution to Vermont's Congressional delegation, the Governor and Attorney General of the State of Vermont, Brattleboro's Chief of Police, the local U.S. Attorney's office, the local office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Vermont State Police.