March 1, 2010
Grassroots Constitutionalists Distressed by PATRIOT Extension
Amy E. Ferrer, Associate Director
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
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.”
Formed in 2001, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee is a national organization defending constitutional rights and civil liberties violated by “war on terror” policies. BORDC’s mission is to promote, organize, and support a diverse, effective, national grassroots movement to restore and protect civil rights and liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
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